Aquatecture: Landscaping with Water

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Real Estate

Aquatecture: Landscaping with Water

Aquatecture (landscaping with water) doesn’t have to mean mammoth fountains with marble cherubs or giant fishponds. It can be as simple as a miniature contained waterfall or even a birdbath. Or you can build a rocky streambed through your back yard. The options are as varied as your imagination.


First off, you need to decide what you want – and if you can afford it. You may need to call in a designer. But with or without one, be sure to tailor your water landscaping to your yard’s size. Build your water feature far enough away from the house so that it can be seen and enjoyed from inside the house. Whatever you decide on, design it in such a way that it appears natural – in other words, you wouldn’t build a stream in a perfectly straight line.


Check with municipal regulators to determine the specifics of your property. Find out what the setback is, what rights-of-way exist and where on your property you can build. Call your utility providers to come out and put in markers where underground cables are before you dig, remembering that even this precaution is not always completely accurate. Look into any permits that are required.


A small starter pond kit can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, pumping about 300 gallons a minute. Larger kits start at $750 and range up to several thousand dollars. A 180-square-foot (11’ x 16’) pond is the standard size water feature. Trace the prospective pond out on the ground with a garden hose to help you visualize what the finished size will be.


Water features typically need a plastic liner. A pump is a must. You can’t just let the water sit for a couple of reasons – insects will make a city out of it and algae will choke out whatever other life you have planned for it. Your pump keeps the water moving, which gives both visual and aural appeal, and aerates the water, which keeps the pest and algae population down. Most pumps for a small-to-medium project should circulate between 1000 and 3000 gallons per hour. Larger projects will require larger pumps. Filtration is usually only necessary if fish are used.


Aquatecture is the kind of project that can grow over time. When starting with a small pond, you can later add a small waterfall pouring into it. After that, perhaps a small stream that goes over the waterfall and empties into the pond. If you build your water paradise gradually, the cost can be spread out as well.