Water Features: Which is right for you?

Water Features

Just because you live in a desert environment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of a water feature incorporated into your landscape design. There are a wide variety of factors that need to be considered before you decide on the right one though. These include usage plans, environmental features, and more. We’ll help you work your way through them, separate your needs from your wants, and determine which water feature is the right one for you.

Considerations to make when choosing a water feature.

Pond
There are some major considerations that need to be taken into account. This is especially true in a desert environment where a water feature will have to be fed on the grid and water prices can be especially expensive. Consider the following:

  • Purpose – This should be your primary consideration. The purpose of your water feature will determine where you position it, the scope of it, and what short cuts you may be able to take to reduce water usage. Some of the reasons home owners decide on water features are for:
    1. As a decorative element in the front or backyard of a home.
    2. As a central focus point for relaxing or socializing
    3. As a way to attract wildlife and create a miniature oasis.
    4. As a multi-functional area for swimming and one of the above.
  • Build Cost – Setting a budget is important. You don’t want to overextend during building. Taking DIY approach to certain aspects of a project can certainly cut this number down. Having a concrete idea of the average cost of your project in relation to the scope you are planning on can definitely help you keep costs within budget. This can also help you determine the scope of your project. After considering costs you may find a different option more to your liking.
  • Ongoing Cost – Ongoing costs include the cost of water to keep your feature running, the cost of maintenance, and the cost of repairs. Some water features are more prone to damage over time. Others require regular maintenance in order to maintain the proper PH balances. Some home owners also opt for water features they can easily stop using during times where water prices may be excessively high.

Different water features and their associated costs, benefits, and disadvantages.

Fountains

Fountains can provide you with a great centerpiece or accent. These are often used in the front yard, and water usage can vary greatly depending on the fountain. This can make it an economical choice or increase ongoing usage fees if your chosen model uses a great deal of water. One of the great things about fountains is the sheer variety. Whether you want a small piece or a major central focus you can really tailor a fountain to your property and individual taste.
Cost : The average cost of a fountain is roughly $2,500. This can reach upwards of $7,000 depending on the design materials, how elaborate the fountain is, and more.
Advantages – A major advantage of fountains is tailored water usage. If you buy the right type of fountain it can also stand alone as an art object. If water prices become to elevated or your area suffers a drought you can turn off the water supply and still have a gorgeous statuary in its place. Fountains like bird baths can also be used to attract wildlife.
Disadvantages – Ongoing water costs never end but can be minimized by design. Fountains also need plumbing and electricity. This can elevate the cost substantially depending on the scope of the work. A landscaping company can help you minimize this cost by positioning a fountain closest to existing water and electricity lines.

Ponds

Ponds do more for a backyard than just providing a great focal point—they act as a relaxing area for socializing or just enjoying the great weather. These are typically positioned in backyards and may incorporate a number of additional features. These can include fountains and waterfall as well as fish and plants. Adding a living ecosystem into your backyard can be a great way to expand upon and experience nature. The cost of a pond can quickly add up though.
Cost : Cost varies depending on the size and features. A small 4×6 foot pond could cost as little as $2,500 dollars. Larger ponds with more features can range anywhere from $16,000 to 30 or 40 thousand dollars.
Advantages – Ponds allow for a great variety in differences. How you choose to decorate them and populate them with plant life can determine what species and variety of insects and animals you can attract. This can be really fun and interesting. Choosing which species you’ll attract can help you to create a unique biome in the desert. They can also create a relaxing safe haven so you always have a vacation spot nearby.
Disadvantages – Water sources can attract some unwanted guests as well. This includes a large variety of native scorpions. You’ll also want to consider the ongoing cost of a pond. If the pump is damaged you’ll need to repair it. Desert ponds also require a consistent source of water as well as filtration. It’s likely you’ll want to pay an expert to check the PH and nutrient levels of your pond on a regular basis or learn how to do so yourself. They also cannot function without water as a standalone piece.

Water Falls

Waterfall
Waterfalls come in two types. They can be integrated with pond features, but homeowners can also get standalone waterfalls. These cycle back into themselves and provide the sounds of waterfalls and babbling brooks without the water usage requirements of ponds. Choosing the right option depends on whether you want a pond, or may want to expand your water feature in the future. They can also be integrated into swimming pools, providing a quiet but visually arresting addition.
Cost : Freestanding waterfalls vary from between $300 to $2,000 dollars or more. Custom waterfalls attached to ponds or pools can substantially expand that cost to reach as high as 15,000. This makes it up to the consumer to choose the materials and scope that works for their budget.
Advantages – These are heavily dependent on which type you choose. One of the best aspects of waterfalls is that they often include variable settings. You can tailor the intensity of the flow in order to achieve different effects. Depending on your use a water fall can be integrated into an art piece, another water feature, practical usage area like a pool, or as a standalone feature. This makes it incredibly versatile and an excellent option for nearly any property.
Disadvantages – Water falls come with a variety of extra monetary considerations. Because they require pumps, the larger the waterfall, the more pumps are necessary. These can easily increase electrical utilities on the pool by as much as 8 percent. You’ll also want to invest in appropriate lighting. This can really make a waterfall stand out at night. Maintenance, repairs, and replacements may be necessary for pumps over the years.

Shopping around!

After you’ve established your needs and desires for a water feature, it’s important to shop around. Costs can vary heavily, and a large consideration is materials. Companies will help you navigate these complexities and work to reduce costs while still providing you with the feature you’re looking for. Enjoy the weather, and make sure you do your homework before you get a new water feature.

Finding the accents for your desertscape!

Why choose desertscaping?

The Desert
When you’re looking for a dry environment landscaper, Phoenix offers a number of different solutions. With the dry weather you’ll want to consider the best way to conserve water without sacrificing environmental beauty. One of the best options is a desertscape. These can be made to work with any existing landscape and integrated with native and non-native plant species. Considering the natural beauty of the landscape in desert environments dry places provide an incredible opportunity to integrate the native environment with your own. This can provide a beautiful bridge between the two.

Use less water and gain amazing variation.

You may be surprised to find out how many different options there are for desertscaping. The landscape can be modified to fit certain needs depending on those of the occupants. Choosing the right layout is incredibly important, but after you’ve got the larger picture in place, how do you fill it up? Determining what your desertscape needs can be difficult when you don’t know what all of your choices are. This guide will help you make the most of your desertscaping.

What makes an accent?

Desertscapes are separated into several areas of consideration. You’ve got areas for entertaining, visual focal points, landscape boundaries, and in-between areas. Accents can be used to tie these areas together as well as differentiate them from one another. Both man-made and natural elements can be put to use. Here are just some of the wonderful materials and ideas you can put to use for your desertscape accenting.

Desertscaping accent options:

Lawn grass alternatives for wide coverage.

While dirt is always the cheapest option, it may not be the most visually appealing. If you aren’t growing grass in front or behind a house it can feel very empty. Leaving the ground barren can also leave it open for erosion. There are a variety of options that fall into two different categories. These both provide your desertscape with a different look and feel and can be used together for greater effect.

  • Organic: When it comes to solid ground cover there’s only one truly great option for Arizona homes. That’s the use of drought tolerant native grasses. There are a variety of different grasses native to Arizona. These are frequently tall, with an appearance similar to grain stalks. A blend of different grasses will also yield the best results. They may sprout at different times and even if the first year doesn’t provide great results, subsequent years frequently provide greater yield and coverage.
  • Inorganic: Rocks and gravel are an inexpensive, visually arresting, and zero water alternative to traditional lawn grasses. These are Arizona friendly but don’t have to come from Arizona. This leaves you open to choose from an incredible selection. A great option for creating visual variance is with differences in rock size, shape, and type. We’ll cover this more in-depth below.

Rock and Stone Options

  1. Ground Fill – River rocks are a great option for ground fill. When used in a strategic manner they can make for an incredibly creative hardscape. One great idea is to use them as fill in any natural rivulets made by rain water. This allows you to create a natural rockery “stream” that can be further offset with a different fill rock.
  2. Ground Fill – Aggregate is a blanket term for a variety of fill materials. You can get aggregate in limestone, granite, quartzite and more. Crushed stone comes in a variety of grades and sizes making them good for different projects. The typical size for landscaping is #57. These are great for in-between areas and can be used with offset color patterns like juxtaposition created from river rocks for a great net effect.
  3. Standing – Boulders are perfect for creating strong focal points. These can be purchased or occasionally removed from someone else’s land with the proper permissions. Many homeowners look for interesting natural designs and weather wear. Popular boulder options include those that have worn down in the middle creating a hole in the stone. Boulders are good choices for both front and rear areas.
  4. Tile – The application of tile can really help to differentiate areas and let your creative side out. Tiles make great surrounds for larger pieces like boulders. Crushed tile can also be an amazing and colorful way to frame and portion off your landscape. Creating pictures from tile is another wonderful way to fill your landscape. Pieces can also be embedded into our next option for a larger piece you don’t have to worry about shifting.
  5. Concrete – Almost nothing beats concrete when it comes to variation. Concrete can be used to mimic much more expensive materials. This makes it ideal for those who are landscaping large areas or landscaping on a budget. You may be wondering how it can be used to accent. Concrete is ideal for creating pathways and outer areas that are habitable. Concrete stepping stones may lead to a small veranda with a shade structure on a concrete base. Concrete can also be used to create ornamentation, bird baths, retaining walls, and much more.

Bushes and Tree Options
Cactuses

  1. Cacti – Cacti are one of the most obvious options available for accenting your desert landscaping project. They come in a wonderful variety of shapes and sizes covering every type of usage you could want. Small barrel cacti are perfect drought resistant shrub replacements. With a low height, pretty flower, and colorful spines, they can add color to your environment. Prickly pear cacti with their flat leaves and large spines are excellent tree replacements. They still serve the same visual function with their large appendages giving the appearance of branches. Saguaro cacti are incredibly large and imposing. They make an excellent living centerpiece and focal point for your desertscape.
  2. Trees – Just some of our favorites for a splash of color are red flowered bottle brush tree. Native to Australia this beautiful tree thrives in Arizona. The Jacaranda tree is another gorgeous Australia native. This purple flowering tree is right at home in the Arizona desert and can provide your desertscape with some much needed color. Accenting with Texas Red Oaks is great way to make sure you get some fall color in your landscape. The beautiful giants also provide some wonderful shade to beat the desert heat.
  3. Bushes – Sage bushes work hand in hand with Jacaranda trees. With bright purple flowers and long limbs they provide an elegance that many desert bushes are lacking. Leaves are bright green and provide a great contrast against whatever you’ve chosen for ground fill. Although poisonous, birds of paradise are some truly breathtaking drought tolerant shrubbery. With yellow and red flowers that are so vivid their horizontal growth patterns make them good for bordering. Last but not least the lantana produces bright yellow flowers from nearly the beginning of summer to the end of fall. These are extremely drought tolerant and can be used for wide coverage or for smaller areas.

Don’t be afraid to get creative!

When it comes to desertscaping, creativity is key. You want to let your personality shine and turn your outdoors into a low water paradise. Just because it’s hardy doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful as well. With these accent solutions under your belt you’re well on your way to a gorgeous outdoor desertscape!

How to Give Back to Your Local Community

Giving back to the community is a powerful ingredient in the recipe for sound well-being and a healthy lifestyle. Without it, people try to find the meaning and purpose of life in some aspects such as material accumulation- albeit shortlived. The best thing about giving is that you don’t necessarily require money to do it. Your time, your effort, and even your attitude can make a big difference in someone’s life.
If you are looking for ways to support the local community- these are the people that supported you or have been part of your life- here are some of the best ways to do it.

1. Volunteer in Local Activities
Volunteering in community-based activities is a great way to help and interact with others. There are many opportunities to help, some of which are actually enjoyable. You just need to find something that interests you. Spend at least one hour thinking what interests you and check the local listings or websites for such activities.

village-meeting
Even if you don’t find something that interests you, you can create one and mobilize the locals. By participating in something that you really enjoy, you will be giving your best.

2. Have a Collection for Local Charity
You can decide to be setting aside some money each week, each month, or on the quarterly basis and be giving it to the local charity at the end of the year, or whichever frequency that suits you. Encourage your children to be saving some cash or giving their dolls to support the less fortunate. Consider celebrating each new year by giving to the local charity the last years savings.

Even if you can’t afford to be setting aside some cash, you can organise a walk to support a charitable activity. In every community, there must be someone in need. It might be a kid who goes to school on an empty stomach, a parent battling his/her health and struggling to feed the kids or a homeless person.

Whichever the need, there are many avenues you can raise the funds including social media sites and ‘ Go Fund Me’ platform. If you are a business owner and you have an office where other businesses and clients frequent, consider having a collection for the local charity near the office door. It is an effective way to encourage employees and clients to contribute to the local causes.

3. Start a Private Scholarship
Every year, many students graduate from high school and look on to college. Unfortunately, some of them have the will, but don’t have the means. Setting aside some cash to support them is a great way to give back to your community. To some of these kids, education is their only hope.

If you can’t afford to support them, consider partnering with the local businesses. They can be sponsoring your efforts as you take care of the application, selection, and administration.

4. Volunteer at a Local Hospice
Some hospitals allow volunteers to visit patients to talk to them and cheer them up. Offering a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to, and a smile to brighten them can make a difference to those in pain. Call the local hospital and inquire if there is such a program. Be advised on who to visit and the refreshments to carry.

 

 

5. Fill a Need
Where there is a felt need in your community, be there to fill it. There is plenty of opportunities. For the sports enthusiasts, you can start a youth basketball program, an environment awareness program to be planting trees and doing the cleanups, a motivation program to be motivating the school kids, and others.

6. Visit the Seniors and Veterans
If there is a home for seniors or disabled veterans in your area, make a point to visit them. You can still visit them in their homes. Many of them really appreciate having someone to talk to. Simple acts such as taking the trash out or going to grocery can make a big difference.