Magazine article Sunset

Make a Splash: The Best Water Features Treat This Resource with Respect

Magazine article Sunset

Make a Splash: The Best Water Features Treat This Resource with Respect

Article excerpt

A water feature in an arid climate isn't a luxury. It's a necessity. When months go by without a drop of rain, the sight and sound of water in the garden are powerfully reassuring on many levels--physically, psychologically, even spiritually. A gently splashing fountain or overspilling bowl can cool the body, calm the mind, and instill gratitude in the soul. It reminds us that every garden is an oasis and that water in a region that sees little, if any, summer rainfall is a blessing, not a privilege.

Minimizing evaporation is the key to creating a responsible water feature. The drier the air and the more vigorous the water's motion, the faster water evaporates. We can't influence the former, but the latter is totally under our control. Even modest spill fountains can be as cooling as powerful sprays and thundering cascades, and their softer music is more pleasing to the ear.

Southwestern Zen

Simple but striking, this wall fountain is well suited to Wilson and Jenna Scanlan's Santa Fe garden. A thin sheet of water spills from a freestanding wall into a hidden basin below the Mexican beach pebbles and boulders, then recirculates. The feature is a strong focal point that also adds some privacy.

DESIGN: Elizabeth Robechek, Clemens & Associates, Santa Fe (505/982-4005)

Bubbling basin

A water bowl of Mexican cantera stone burbles in Jenny and Brent Simmons's courtyard in Palo Alto, CA. The 42-in.-wide bowl sits atop an industrial-strength grate over a wide concrete basin.

DESIGN: Bernard Trainor + Associates, Monterey, CA (831/655-1414)

Tuscan fountain

Lynne and Vernon Blackman created a fountain in Del Mar, CA, using affordable materials: limestone tiles from the Home Depot, a slab of limestone for the spillway, and concrete blocks covered with instant stucco for the basin.



Ripple bowl

In the courtyard of a home in Beverly Hills, a 30-in.-wide, 18-in.-deep concrete bowl filled with water is buried nearly to its rim in decomposed granite.

DESIGN: Susanne Jett, Jettscapes Landscape, Santa Monica (310/392-4375)


Burble jar

In Chris Jacobson's San Francisco backyard, a 5 1/2-ft.-tall Southeast Asian urn sits among culms of Elegia capensis. …

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