The Murmur of Water
Outdoor water fountains can transform you and your environment
The mesmerizing sound. The transparent movement. The cool, fresh sensation. Outdoor water feature are a treat for the senses—auditory, visual and tactile. For millennia, we had placed moving water around our homes because water works some kind of magic on us, soothing us to our very essence.
Outdoor fountains make a graceful statement about a home by creating a pleasing and welcoming ambiance. They can be used to enhance the architectural style of a house. Outdoor fountains are especially beneficial in these technological times, serving as camouflage for traffic noise, humming air-conditioning units and thrashing lawn mowers. They can be designed to be played in, thus providing cool relief on a hot day—perfect for Houston.
Types of Outdoor Water Fountains
Outdoor fountains come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and styles. They can invoke Roman classicism, a Hill Country natural pool, modern garden or a Charleston garden. Fountains can be placed in a quiet corner of the yard or serve as the centerpiece along a curving front drive. Additional features can be added, such as a cascading waterfall or a contemporary wall fountain.
Whatever style you prefer, the main thing to remember is that your overall landscape will be improved if you use a water feature that coordinates with your home and garden.
Water Features Made to Order While custom-built outdoor water feature sare more expensive than prefabricated ones, they do have specific and long-lasting benefits:
- Custom-built outdoor fountains can be constructed to a much larger scale than prefabricated ones. This feature can be important when working with the scale of homes and buildings.
- One of the most common problems of ready-mades is “over-spray” or water coming out of the fountain. This malfunction leads to many problems, such as the fountain running out of water, the area near the fountain becoming slippery or moldy, and discoloration of the surrounding material due to chlorination. A custom-built outdoor water fountain addresses these problems upfront.
- A great aspect of custom-built fountains is that they can be constructed with special features: overflow release valves to drain excess water, skimmers, auto-fill lines to maintain the water level, lights, filters, auto-chlorinators and backwash lines for easy cleaning. Almost none of these enhancements are available on prefabricated fountains.
Hard Choices when it comes to Water Fountains
Choosing the right outdoor water fountain begins by looking for materials that work in our climate. These materials need to handle Houston’s intense sunlight, rain and other natural elements. Many outdoor water feature are constructed with masonry products such as brick, sandstone, limestone, concrete blocks and ledgestone. Other popular choices include rock, natural stone, tile, marble and polished stone. The basins that act as a reservoir are typically made with gunite and rebar, and then plastered—much like a swimming pool. These interior surfaces are sometimes tiled or clad with stone, pebbles or mosaics.
Fountain Design Talk
“Building a custom outdoor water fountain appears to be like building a swimming pool, but is actually far more difficult. Typically, each fountain is different and therefore each is an original. It is more like building a working piece of art,” explains Jeff Halper with Exterior Worlds. “It takes a lot of practical, real-world experience and knowledge to avoid common pitfalls when designing or constructing one.”
There is no one way to design or build a fountain, and many different approaches can achieve the same result. During the design process, the scope of the work is defined and a budget will be developed. Cost factors include material choices, decisions about illumination and long-term maintenance. The best professionals work with their clients to provide as much information as possible to make the outdoor water fountain a success.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. —Sir John Lubbock
Call Exterior Worlds at 713-827-2255 with questions about adding a fountain to your landscape.
For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston’s fine neighborhoods.