Homeowners are incorporating streams, pools and waterfalls in their landscapes. A Boulder-based Zen monk, Yale-educated painter and the founder of Marpa & Associates landscaping firm, Martin Hakubai Mosko knows the value of water. “Where there is water, there is life: Water gives birth to being,” Mosko wrote in his book Landscape as Spirit: Creating a Contemplative Garden. “A long time ago, before language, we came upon a pond, and for the first time saw our own image. This is an extremely powerful experience, one that is repeated in every pool.” Here in landlocked, semi-arid Colorado, we face a dearth of natural pools and ponds and lakes, yet more and more Colorado homeowners are discovering the appeal of adding a water feature to their landscape. Mosko’s landscaping firm specializes in gardens that include the four elements, of which water is one. Marpa & Associates tend to design lavish projects that incorporate streams, waterfalls and pools — both residential and commercial. Yet water features need not be reserved only for office parks and upscale estates.
Owned and operated by two Colorado natives — Sandy Haynes and Leslie Ebert — Stonegate Gardens creates and maintains water features for properties in Cherry Hills and Greenwood Village, but also for landscapes of more modest homes. Ranging from contemporary to traditional, their custom water features start at $3,000 and go upwards, depending on the complexity of the design and installation. “Water adds a calming sense,” says Ebert, who designs Stonegate’s water features and maintains a koi pond at her own home. “And a lot of people will install a water feature because the splash muffles the sounds of cars going by.” Outdoor LivingA custom water feature can also define space, unify a garden with a home and create a focal point. “We build them for patios and other tight spaces,” Ebert says. “We use mainly stones, stainless steel, glass tiles, and we can build to your specifications.” Now in their sixth season, the women at Stonegate Gardens claim that today’s improved technology, products and know-how make creating watery wonderlands more affordable and less of a hassle.
“They used to be high-maintenance because nobody really knew how to do them,” Ebert explains. Now, landscape firms have gotten their feet wet, so to speak. Yet even for the most proficient home improvement enthusiasts, installing significant water features such as ponds or waterfalls is best left to the professionals. If you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer, don’t. The whole idea of a water feature is to add calmness and tranquillity to your life. Water features demand exactitude; and if you don’t get it right, things can go very wrong and can result in property damage. “You can end up with a huge water bill and a huge headache,” Ebert says. “You have to understand the concept of how water runs down. And you have to make it look right. It’s a very artistic thing,” says Ebert, who left a graphic arts career because she loathed being inside an office all day. “And even if you have the artistic eye and know how to flow the water, it takes a lot of patience.”
Ebert says the most common water feature complaint is leakage: “If you’re filling a water feature three times a day, there’s a problem. We get a lot of calls, and sometimes it’s just that a boulder slipped or something.” Stonegate Gardens advises homeowners dreaming of a water feature to do their due diligence and consider the following pointers: “Don’t overdo it or under do it. Look at pictures, pictures, pictures,” Ebert advises. “And if somebody you know has a water feature, look at it personally and ask questions about its maintenance.” If you have children or pets, consider a circulating stream with no standing water to pose a threat of drowning. When considering a landscaping firm, be sure it has experience both with building the water feature and planting appropriate plant material in and around it. Verify your water feature’s warranty. Stonegate Gardens offers a one-year warranty, which they sometimes extend. Ebert says, “We build them to last, so we don’t worry about it. ”
By COLLEEN SMITH
Photography KIMBERLY DAWN