Spending time in nature can be an incredibly relaxing, healing experience. If you’re thinking about adding a water feature to your outdoor space, there are many amazing benefits to this extraordinary home project. Having access to water provides you with a calming, relaxing space where you can unwind and escape the stress of everyday life. It also adds a beautiful visual water feature to a patio which can easily become a conversation starter. Depending on the type of water feature you add, it can also provide you with some fantastic outdoor activities like swimming or the perfect spot to spend time out with the kids. Read on to discover how you can design your very own backyard water oasis for a unique sanctuary you’ll love.
Planning and Budgeting Your Water Oasis
Before you start working on your new water feature, it’s essential to plan ahead so that you don’t go over budget.
Determine your upfront costs. Get an idea of your initial costs so you have a handle on how much you should expect to pay for the project. Get estimates from several reputable contractors in your area so you can compare prices. It’s crucial to decide if the project will be financially feasible before you start work. Always be on the lookout for hidden costs that can come up and surprise you when you least expect it, too.
Set a budget limit. Think about your max budget, and make sure that you don’t go over it. Determine how you’re going to finance the project, whether it’s through a loan, credit card, or using your savings. Always keep the size and scope in consideration because this can significantly affect your total cost.
Maintenance expenses. Don’t forget to account for the cost of maintaining your water feature. Whether it’s higher property taxes or higher utility costs, you may need to pay more in monthly fees to enjoy it. You should also consider repair and installation costs and possible increases in your insurance, particularly if you’re installing a hot tub or swimming pool.
Project timeline. Get a clear timeline from your contractor so you plan accordingly. More complex projects will take more time to complete. Also, if labor is in high demand, your project could be pushed back or take longer. Be willing to “sacrifice” your backyard for a while until everything is complete.
Backyard water safety. Remember to practice proper safety when adding a water feature, including installing fencing around ponds and pools and never leaving children alone when they’re in or near the water. Consider installing anti-slip surfaces to help prevent injury, too.
DIY vs. hiring a contractor. You can do some projects DIY, depending on the size and scope of the job. Remember to be realistic with your skills, know your limitations, and be sure to avoid common mistakes if you plan to do the installation on your own. Doing things DIY can undoubtedly save you money, but it can also be more time-consuming and leave a lot of room for mistakes. While hiring a contractor might cost you more, you’ll likely get the project done faster and ensure that the job is done right the first time.
All About Waterfalls, Ponds, and Water Gardens
A waterfall, pond, or water garden is a beautiful addition to a garden or backyard area.
Types of waterfalls. Think about the kind of waterfall or feature you’d like to add. A beautiful birdbath is a simple addition to a backyard space, while a sizeable waterfall-style fountain will require more work and electricity for the pump to operate. You can also add a unique backyard aquarium to bring visual interest to the space. Consider the size of your yard or patio to determine which type of waterfall will suit your needs the best. Remember to add a natural touch like plant life or koi fish for a beautiful element.
The landscape is key. The location of your waterfall will affect the landscape, so choose it carefully and always keep the size in mind. You should also consider the style and materials used to ensure that it goes with the rest of your home and outdoor plants, so everything looks cohesive and natural.
Installment considerations. If you’re adding a pond or fountain, look into the different types of pumps available so that it’s powerful enough to keep the water flowing. Think about the different kinds of lighting you can install to highlight your water feature when the sun goes down. Also, keep water safety in mind if you have children or pets and install a barrier around it to avoid accidents or injuries.
Filling the pond. A pond is a beautiful way to add a natural look to your yard, so think about what you want to fill it with. Look for large colorful rocks or ornamental statues, faux lily ponds, and other unique items to give it a personal touch.
Fish and other pond animals. If you plan to add fish or other water animals to your pond, make sure you understand the proper way to care for them. You’ll also need to add protection over the pond to keep the animals safe from predators like birds that can see your fish from above. Protective netting is an excellent way to keep your pond life safe.
Differences between Waterfalls, Ponds, and Water Gardens. A waterfall adds moving water to your yard and creates a soothing sound. You can add it as a standalone feature or incorporate it with a swimming pool. Ponds are dug into the ground and typically include some type of plant life and/or fish. Ponds require more maintenance than waterfalls do. Water gardens are similar to ponds but usually only have plants and rocks, so they’re a bit easier to maintain than a complete pond.
Maintenance details. Whatever feature you choose, you’ll need to keep it clean. Install a quality filtration system to remove dirt and sediment, clean out the feature often to keep everything flowing and so that the water stays clear and fresh.
Taking a Shower Outdoors
An outdoor shower is an excellent feature, especially if you have a pool or jacuzzi.
Outdoor shower types. A standalone outdoor shower is great for washing off quickly, or you can choose a wall-mounted outdoor shower that connects to your home’s plumbing. You may also attach a showerhead directly to your garden hose if you want something that won’t take up much space.
Design tips. Make your outdoor shower stylish with a beautiful enclosure or cover for extra shade. You can even install some beautiful outdoor tile to give the shower a luxe look or install a river rock tile floor for a lovely, fun touch.
Adding lighting. Natural light should be enough, but you can add some more lighting in case you want to grab a shower in the evening. Install water-resistant lighting for safety or try solar lights like stylish string lights for a bright touch. Barn lights or motion-activated lights are also a good option since they’re rugged and able to handle being outdoors in all types of conditions.
Materials needed. Always choose waterproof, durable materials to protect your outdoor shower. If you live in a wet climate, you’ll want to use stainless steel hardware, so your shower doesn’t rust. Consider adding components to remove from the shower and store away in the winter to prevent burst pipes or damage.
Installation factors. Make sure that your outdoor shower has hot and cold outdoor faucets so you can adjust the temperature to your liking. Be sure that it has proper drainage so that the water moves away from your home or that there’s a drain leading to underground plumbing to prevent standing water.
Privacy is key. You’ll want to install some privacy screens or a three-walled enclosure so that you can shower privately and create a safe haven. A beautiful living wall with succulents or flowers is another great way to get some extra cover.
Swimming Pools 101
A swimming pool is the ultimate water feature. Here are some tips about bringing the perfect pool to your backyard for a fabulous getaway.
Above-Ground Pools vs. Inground Pools. There’s a lot to consider when installing a pool, so think about whether you want it to be above ground or inground. The cost of an inground pool varies on the size and materials, but it should set you back by about $28,000 to as much as $55,000, possibly more. An above-ground pool is much cheaper, coming in at about $3,000 to $11,000. It’s much more complex to install an inground pool, and the process will involve permitting, digging, cutting down trees, and installing concrete. Above-ground pools are much easier to install and take less time to complete, but they don’t usually last as long as inground pools do.
Swimming pools for different needs. Design your swimming pool to suit your needs and look for extra features like a stunning infinity pool, a natural pool for organic beauty, or a fun lazy river feature. You can also add extras like a diving board or waterslide for even more fun.
Types of materials. Pools are offered in several materials, including concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl. Make sure you do your research to determine which material is easiest to maintain and which one will last the longest.
Pool amenities and add-ons. You don’t have to add extra features right away if you’re not ready or don’t have the budget. Later on, feel free to install things like an automatic pool cleaner, water jets, a separate jacuzzi area, or a fun waterfall.
Maintenance details. Owning a swimming pool requires good maintenance, which includes checking the chemicals and pH levels. You’ll also need to keep the pool clean and free of debris and use the filter to remove dirt and organic matter. Change the filter regularly and use a pool cover in the off-season to protect it. If you don’t have time, you can always hire a professional pool cleaner or contractor to help keep everything nice and clean all season.
Making the Backyard Feel Like a Spa
Check out these tips to turn your backyard into a spa where you can relax and unwind.
Hot-tub vs. Swim Spa vs. Jacuzzi. A hot tub holds warm water and is designed for total relaxation and luxury. Hot tubs are small in size and easy to maintain, and the jets recirculate the water through a filter to keep it clean. A swim spa is designed for exercise and is essentially a small pool used to work out as you swim against powerful jets to work your muscles. A jacuzzi is a trademarked name representing a variety of spas and hot tubs to suit your needs.
Relaxing benefits. Having a hot tub or swim spa is a great way to relax. Soothing jets offer hydrotherapy to soothe sore muscles and give you a gentle massage. Install lighting to give your hot tub or swim spa a fun effect that will let you chill outside long after the sun goes down.
Keeping it clean. It’s vital to keep your spa water features clean, just like you would with a swimming pool. Mold and bacteria growth can spread germs and make you sick, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep it clean. Use a cover to keep leaves and dirt from getting into your hot tub or swim spa. These products require chemicals similar to a pool, so make sure you monitor and measure the levels regularly, too.
Spa features. Additional features like a cooling and heating system will make your spa more enjoyable. Choose a hot tub with a control panel that allows you to change the location of the jets’ output, the motion of the water, and how powerful they are, depending on your needs.
Enhance your water oasis experience with these digital features.
Sound systems. Create a party-like atmosphere with an awesome outdoor sound system. You can choose from various products, including built-in speakers, garden speakers that resemble a large boulder, or a fun dancing water speaker for your pool. Many outdoor speakers have Bluetooth connectivity so that you can operate them remotely from your smartphone or computer.
Lighting. Make your oasis better with high-quality lighting. Choose LED lights that are bright and last a long time, and always install lighting made for outdoor use. Smart lights are a good choice since you can adjust the brightness, change the color of the lights, and set a timer to turn them off when you need them to.
Video systems. Entertain your guests with an outdoor video system like an integrated spa television or an excellent projector for backyard movie nights. You can also find outdoor wall-mounted televisions that will turn your backyard into an outdoor living space.
Electricity, Water and Plumbing Factors
Here are some more critical things to consider when you design your water oasis.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Solar Powered Water Feature. Solar-powered products can save energy and money, but they don’t always work when you want them to. Make sure you live in an area that gets a lot of full sun if you decide to install anything that operates via solar power. Products with a battery backup are recommended just in case the water feature doesn’t recharge adequately.
Installing a ground fault circuit interrupter GFCI. Always use a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter when installing electrical outlets. This protects you from electrical shock if the outlet or plug is ever exposed to water.
Piping system. Ensure you select pumps and pipes with an adequate flow rate and enough power to deliver the massaging jets you want or the filtration you need. Ask your contractor what type of filter and pump and piping system is best depending on the size and style of your water feature.
Managing the drainage. Proper drainage is critical since it keeps water away from your home’s foundation. Make sure the yard is graded away from the house and that you have enough drainage in place.
Map out underground gas and electric lines. Before you do any digging, you’ll need someone to come and mark the gas, water, and electric lines to prevent accidental cutting when they dig.
Make it cost and energy-efficient. Use solar-powered items as much as possible and install LED bulbs instead of fluorescent bulbs to save money and energy. Put everything on a timer, so it all shuts down when not in use. You can also remember to turn everything off until you’re ready to spend time outside again to save energy.
Local regulations. Always consult with your local jurisdiction to determine regulations, zoning codes, and other rules before installing a new water feature. If you live in an HOA community, you’ll need to check with them before you install a water feature just to make sure it’s allowed or that it’s put in the right location according to the rules.
With a bit of planning, you can enjoy a stunning water oasis in your backyard. From an inground swimming pool or hot tub to a beautiful pond, adding these features will make spending time outdoors more relaxing and enjoyable. Always check that you’re following the proper regulations and installing everything correctly to keep you and your family safe. The suitable water feature transforms any backyard from drab to fab for years of enjoyment.