Water world: Beauty is elemental in fountains great and small

Renee Tomell

From petite to palatial, fountains pour forth sparkling benefits. Here are some tips on how to transform your environment and soothe your soul.

“I have a decorative fountain on the deck of my townhouse. It’s easy to maintain. Just fill her up and plug her in and she’s good to go,” said Carol Farugia, public relations coordinator with Aquascape Inc. The St. Charles, Ill.-based firm is a world leader in water gardening and eco-system ponds that can turn a flat backyard into a meandering stream, complete with dramatic waterfall.

“It is so relaxing,” she said of her small fountain. “Even someone who doesn’t have a lot of room that can’t have a pond can still reap the benefits of the beautiful water sound.”

When selecting a fountain, follow some design basics, shares Debra Phillips, owner of Scentimental Gardens in Geneva, Ill., a home, garden, antiques and landscaping firm.

“They should be chosen to match the architectural style of your home, (with thought given to) proportion, color and design,” Phillips said. “It can be a focal point — the main attraction in a particular area, and the gardens would be surrounding it — or it can be a soothing backdrop.”

To suit a Victorian home, she suggests a fountain with ornate detail, typically in black cast iron.

“As far as blending architectural color, I’ve used terra cotta brick with cream-colored trim and outdoor lamp fixtures in that copper where it takes on that green patina. It’s a repetition of an existing element that’s already in the garden. That patina (in a fountain) would be very attractive against terra cotta brick.”

The splash of falling water also can mask a noisy environment.

“If you want to conceal some of the noise of a busy road, the sound of a fountain nearby will muffle that background noise,” Phillips said.

The higher the fall of water before it reaches its basin, the more sound it will generate, also a plus for people who want to hear the liquid music inside their home.

Big box hardware stores carry a range of designs, and The Home Depot Web site provides helpful specifics in finding your best fit, including information on pumps, choice of materials and levels of care required. Visit www.homedepot.com and search “fountains” to find the article titled “Buying Guide: Indoor and Outdoor Fountains.”

Aquascape has designed a new in-ground basin system, available through its retailers, that is self-contained, requires minimal maintenance and lends itself to a variety of fountain designs. They range from whimsical frogs spitting a stream of water onto a mushroom to bubbling urns to carved stone designs.

“The granite (ones) can run through the winter,” Farugia said. “It forms beautiful ice around the outside, and they’re just lovely.”

Inside the home, fountains add humidity during winter months, said Sarah Hunt, manager at Scentimental Gardens.

Aquascape also offers rainwater harvesting systems that supply filtered water to ponds and gardens. All its products are carried exclusively through independent nurseries, garden centers and retailers spanning the western Chicago suburbs and beyond.

Farugia said fountains and water features create a different world, adding, “Now with people not traveling as much because of gas prices, a lot of people are going this route to create their own paradise in their own backyard.”

Gardeners dive into soil-free realms

Sharing the secrets of success is “Container Water Gardening for Hobbyists,” released by Aquascape Lifestyles Books. Its full-page photos and step-by-step illustrations promise to take the guesswork out of creating beautiful miniature water gardens.

Ranging from simple containers with water and plants to elaborate displays complete with fountains and lighting, 26 projects and design ideas are featured in the 128-page, hardcover book. The St. Charles-based firm says the book’s plant photo gallery includes everything a reader needs to know for growing healthy, aquatic plants.

For more information, visit www.aquascapeinc.com or call (866) 877-6637.

St. Charles Republican