Just Add Water

When I was young, Dad built a fountain with brick, ceramic tile, a recirculating pump, and a concrete mermaid. He bored a hole in the bottom of the statue for water to flow into the pond below. Unable to make the turn to reach her mouth, water gushed from the seated mermaid’s crotch.

Despite the glitch, the fountain provided years of enjoyment. Several goldfish thrived until the above-ground pool froze solid. After it thawed, we were amazed to find them alive and well instead of floating belly-up.

Inspired by friends who’d created a beautiful waterfall for next to nothing, my first water feature was made with rocks picked up from the side of Central Kentucky roads and a waterbed mattress. We sliced three sides to open up the mattress and then dug a king-sized hole. Took four of us several weekends, but the finished product was well worth the effort.

Adding moving water transformed the garden like nothing I’d done before. The pretty pond and waterfall were more than a visual focal point. The sound of water gurgling and splashing drowned out all but the loudest noise from neighbors, nearby roads, and air traffic.

My first thought for a water feature here was a giant, natural-looking waterfall tied to the dry streambed. That idea lost its appeal after the streambed became a drainage ditch. The conversion left a small mountain of rocks to use somewhere.

Taking out a magnolia eliminated the shady spot where my orchids have previously enjoyed summers. The silver-lining is a sunny space perfect for some kind of fountain. I thought about one of the many wall-mounted options available online, but saw none that appealed to me.

After browsing for pre-formed pond liners online, I saw a lot of good options, but didn’t order anything. Seeing them in real life changed my plans. I went with a large tub and a small waterfall which I later discovered is, in fact, a filter. Bonus.

Water Feature 1.0

My new water feature was nice, but not quite what I envisioned. It looked like rocks piled around a bucket. Poking plants into the rocks wasn’t going to work. The sound was nice, but I wanted more!

I returned to the garden center to explore options. Picked up a small connecting pond and pads for the filter. Realized I had two connecting ponds while In the checkout line. They were cheap so I got both.

Adding the connecting ponds made a big difference. The splashing can be heard from anywhere in the house when the window is open. Pity the kitty who gets too curious — the little ponds are precariously perched on a shaky foundation of rocks. Concealing the plastic with plants rather than rocks was easier. Terracing used more rocks and added planting space.

Threw in some aquatic plants, snails and goldfish (Larry, Curly, Moesha and her bougie friends Fred and Ginger). It’s beautiful day and night. A pair of solar spotlights come on at sunset and stay on for several hours.

The entire setup is temporary. This year I want to figure out how to increase the distance the water falls. At some point, I’ll move it away from the house to create space for plants behind it and to make viewing easier from the patio. I want to see how the terraces do first. I’ll keep you posted.