Water features transform a garden space. It could be just the sounds that draw you in from far away or something that visually attracts you before you even hear a trickle, but the common element is how the water becomes the star of the garden. I’ve often seen garden designers install a garden fountain or a pond to anchor a new space. While this works wonders for a blank slate, adding a water feature to a mature garden can be a bit more complicated. Working to save well-rooted plants and trees is well worth the effort, however, as the end result will make the garden fountain look like it was always intended to be there.
This post is sponsored by Aquascape, who also provided the garden fountain supplies. They provided a fountain to give away to one lucky Garden Therapy reader and the winner is Anne-Maria Hawkes in Milton, Ontario! Congratulations, Anne-Maria.
I’ve written many times about the importance of soil-based gardening. I truly believe that giving plants healthy soil is the foundation for healthy plants that thrive in the garden organically without pest and disease issues. You can read more about balance in the garden and organic disease control and pest control. This garden transformation will show you how it works in practice.
When I first bought my house, I adopted a garden that was full of construction materials and dead soil. The plants were beautiful selections, but with terrible soil they didn’t have much of a chance to reach their potential. As you can see by this photo of the garden before I started working on the soil, it was full of stones, eroded, and compacted.
Three years after replacing the soil and adding appropriate plants, the garden was full and lush. The trees and shrubs were bright, colorful, and healthy looking. I added a number of new perennials to the garden to give it full, woodland appeal. I added plenty of color with foliage as the garden is primarily in shade. Even back then I thought a garden fountain would suit the space so I made a two-tier rhubarb leaf birdbath (which is a DIY project in my book, Garden Made, p. 41).
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The front garden looked beautiful and didn’t require much effort to keep it that way. I added compost twice a year, mulched in the fall, and generally just worked to improve the soil nutrition. A shady garden with mature plants doesn’t need much maintenance throughout the year.
As my home is right in the city, the front yard garden’s purpose is to create a buffer between the busy sidewalk and the front entrance. It’s a beautiful space that adds curb appeal, yet without needing much maintenance, I spent so little time there that I rarely thought twice about it when planning new garden projects.
Out of Sight, Top of Mind
Then it hit me: why do I not USE this space that I love so much? The one thing that the space lacked was a place to enjoy the garden. I had often talked about adding a front porch to sit and sip coffee, enjoying the front yard plants and chatting with the neighbors as they walked their dogs and kids. Looking at the garden in a new light helped me see what the space could become.
The Fountain that Changed the Space
Last year we placed a bench in the front garden but nobody ever sat on it. It just wasn’t welcoming enough. I figured that there isn’t anything more welcoming than bubbling water in front of a bench so that is where the fountain would go. Forget the front porch! We could create a welcoming space, nestled under the trees, where you could sit and sip coffee and watch the bees flit around the splashing water. I set out to find the perfect water feature and thought the columnar basalt garden fountain would fit the space as well as blend with the colors of the Japanese maple and Heucheras.
The most unexpected delight in installing the fountain is how it lights up at night. I strongly recommend adding landscape lighting to a water feature so you can enjoy the space after the sun starts to set. The lights are angled to shine on the fountain as well as the dogwood and maple trees, creating a canopy of light above the garden. It lights the pathway to the front steps and is welcoming to come home to after a late night out.
Installing the fountain transformed the space for sure, but it wasn’t complicated to DIY. I was previously intimidated with installing a water feature but through this project learned just how simple of a process it is. You will find full step-by-step instructions to installing the fountain in this post:
You Can Do It! How to Install a Disappearing Fountain at Home