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How to Create Deck Water Features

Oct 9, 2007
One of the best ways to improve the aesthetic appeal of an outdoor living space is to create a great deck water feature. The gentle splashes and trickles as well as the sparkle of moving water will make the deck seem like a world apart.

A shallow reflecting pond with its glassy surface acts as a natural mirror and creates a calming and contemplative setting. The sound of splashing water soothes and cheers those around it. There are many design possibilities from shaping a peaceful and elegant reflecting pond with brick to having a contractor or landscape designer pour a concrete base for a koi pond filled with water based plants. Moving water plays with light by catching it, refracting it and casting it about. Fountainheads can be used to spurt basic patterns such as multilevel tiers, glassy mushrooms, gurgling bubbles and simple streams of water from a spitter. Some fountainheads offer a combination of patterns.

Installing a water feature can be as simple as setting up a small pond using a rigid liner or forming the base of the pond with a flexible liner. Small earth berms, rocks, landscape timbers or materials native to the region can be used to camouflage the edge of the liner. Keep the pool edges irregular so that it appears that the water has cut its own channel through the soil. Water plants can be set around the pond edges to add a more natural effect.

All water features share one mandatory guideline. The water has to be aerated. Any kind of stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, anaerobic bacteria which smells and algae. It also collects debris and silt. Water splashing out of a fountain or spilling over the edge of a waterfall picks up air which helps it to stay fresh and sparkling.

The installation of a submersible pump that recirculates the water will keep it moving, sending it out of a fountainhead, forcing it to the top of a waterfall or simply flowing back and forth within a pool. Submersible pumps operate underwater in order for it not to pump air and burn out the motor. The intake filters of the pump must be cleaned to prevent clogging by debris. Simply skimming the surface of the pond to remove floating debris and setting the pump on a stone or brick on the bottom of the pond can go along way to keeping the submersible pump working effeciently.

Liners, submersible pumps and fountainheads are widely available at home improvement centers, nurseries and aquatic specialy shops. It is wise to consult with the experts there to select the right materials for the water feature and ensure that everything is correctly sized for the volume of water.

Wall mounted fountains catch water in prefabricated decorative basins. They work extremely well on upper story decks since their weight is supported by the wall and not the deck floor. In addition, since the supporting wall shelters these features, water overspray is rarely a problem. Of course wall mounted fountains require an electrical power source to run the pump that recirculates the water. It's usually quite simple for an electrician to install an outdoor outlet without disturbing deck flooring.

Running a pump without enough water can damage any pump. Therefore the water in a freestanding or wall mounted fountain must be replenished during dry hot weather because of evaporation. All it takes is simply pouring water into the basin to top up the supply.

Large water features that have a water source are best controlled by a float valve which automatically monitors the water level so that the pool is always full. It allows for water to be turned on when the level falls below a preset mark and shuts it off when the fountain is refilled. The installation of a float valve requires extra cost but makes regular maintenance much simpler.

To mask unpleasant sounds such as traffic or air conditioning units it takes only a moderate volume of moving water to do the trick. Even the smallest trickle or drip can buffer noises from the outside world. Too much water moving too quickly may necessitate adjusting the flow valve on the submersible pump in order to reduce the flow and soften the sound to an ideal level.

Periodically it will be necessary to drain the pond for cleaning and maintenance as well as for winterizing. With a small pond or fountain it is simply a matter of bailing the water by hand. A drain valve and drain line that empty into a storm system or natural area can be installed for a larger pond. In areas where the pond freezes solid it is wise to remove the pump and store it in a bucket of water inside the house where it will not freeze. Once a pump has been used it is vitally important to keep it wet so that the inner seal does not dry out and shrink.

Adding a water feature to an existing deck is certainly possible and is most easily done with ground level types. It will be necessary to cut through the decking, perhaps alter some of the framing below, excavate beneath the deck and insert a preformed liner. It is very important that the bottom and the sides of the liner are completely supported. Then it is simply a matter of completing the steps mentioned before about making electrical connections and possibly a water connection to the new water feature.

The simple application of practical design techniques and a little imagination can allow homeowners to add a dramatic touch to to a new or existing outdoor living space by the addition of a deck water feature.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Water Features and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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