Add Splash to your Home with a Water Feature

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Now that summer is on the way, you may be looking for some special way to spruce up your home. Once you’ve planted your annuals and put up your umbrella for shade, you may be thinking that your outdoor space is still missing something. Or your indoor space, in spite of adding some colorful toss pillows, feels a little dull. How about adding water?

While hiring a landscape architect to add a dramatic private swimming pool or waterfall might be ideal, most of us don’t have that kind of budget. But even if you aren’t swimming in money, you can find a way to add some splash to your home. You can find small water features for as little as $35 or spend tens of thousands on an elaborate indoor or outdoor pond, pool or fountain.

Benefits of water

We all know it’s good for the body to drink lots of water, but looking at and listening to water can be good for the soul. Gazing at a trickling creek, a bubbling fountain or a dramatic waterfall can be calming, while the sound of water can provide a soothing background soundtrack for taking a nap, reading a book or entertaining friends. The water sounds can help reduce annoyance from noise pollution like traffic or loud neighbors.

Choose your style

While fountains have been an important part of formal gardens and palatial estates for centuries, water features can also be informal and even whimsical. You can find everything from elaborate tiered free-standing fountains with filigrees and statues or a completely Zen-like minimalist fountain with just a flat stone and a trickle of water. If you prefer a contemporary, sleek look, you can design a severe sharp-edged water feature, but if you like a rustic style, you can pile up some rocks and add foliage for a natural-looking waterfall.

Indoor options

An indoor swimming pool may be the ultimate luxurious amenity, but there are ways to bring water indoors on a smaller scale.

  • Tabletop fountains can be found for as little as $35 online or you can spend hundreds for a more elaborate indoor fountain.
  • Wall-mounted and floor-based indoor fountains are also available from $400 to several thousand dollars.
  • A small indoor pool with a statue can also cost in the thousands depending on the size and materials you choose.

You can add a water feature almost anywhere in your home as long as you have a way to plug in a water circulation pump or a pipe to replenish the water. A popular place for a small indoor pond or waterfall is underneath a stair overhang, which can often be an empty unusable area. Living rooms and family rooms lend themselves to water features as a focal point, but don’t forget the soothing qualities of a small water feature in a bedroom.

Outdoor options

Whether you have a balcony, a tiny patio, a small fenced yard or expansive grounds, a water feature can be a lovely embellishment to your outdoor space. Placing your water feature within eyesight or at least where you can hear it through a window makes it both an indoor and outdoor amenity.

  • Wall fountains or small floor-based water fountains, available from under $100 to thousands of dollars online and at garden centers, are a great solution for a small space. Self-contained fountains in a decorative jar or a lily pond inside a barrel of water can also work on a balcony or terrace. You can get the benefits of the sight and sound of water without a large yard.
  • Larger freestanding fountains can have several tiers of splashing water or function as a “bubbler” with water dribbling from an interesting sculpture.
  • If you have the space, you can build a larger round and low pond or build up and have a wall of stone with water rushing down into a pond.
  • Plants and stones enhance water features and can be part of an entire backyard landscape plan.

Caring for your water feature

Even the smallest fountain needs some maintenance, so be sure before you buy your water feature that you know how to keep it clean. If you need to add chemicals to the water, make sure the water feature is out of reach of pets and children or that what you are adding isn’t dangerous to them. You may need to winterize your feature so that it doesn’t freeze and crack or get damaged. The manufacturer or your local garden center can help you plan for the cold months.

In the meantime, enjoy the soothing sounds of flowing water and forget about colder days to come.

Michele Lerner is a freelance writer with more than twenty years of experience writing articles and web content for newspapers and magazines on topics related to real estate, personal finance and business. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post,,,,,, The Washington Times, NAREIT's Real Estate Portfolio, and numerous Realtor association publications. Her latest book, "New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home" and her first book, "HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time" are available now at or from