Design & Decor - Landscaping

10 tips for adding a water feature to your garden

Make a splash with these pro pointers from landscape architect Ron Rule


After several years designing public and corporate landscapes, Vancouver-based Ron Rule began working with newly arrived Asians who wanted estate gardens. As their connections to the land were very strong, integrating the garden with its surroundings was pivotal to these clients, who valued their gardens every bit as much as their homes; they wanted them to look natural and simply could not relate to linear, symmetrical, man-made landscapes. Those experiences, along with his trips to Europe and his inspiration from gardening books, had a powerful influence on Rule’s design aesthetic. His goal is to design gardens that perfectly reflect the home, the land and the people who live there.

Furthermore, Rule believes water features—be they pools, ponds or fountains—are the strongest single element in a garden because the look, sound and movement of water has a profound effect on our senses. “Of all the great gardens I’ve toured,” he says, “I’ve only loved one that didn’t have a water feature—and it needed one.” They become the centrepiece of the landscape and, as such, Rule believes they must blend in with the rest of the features, looking as if they’ve always been there.

Pro pointers
1. Work with, rather than against, the natural landscape.

2. Safety is more important than sun exposure in locating a new swimming pool. If you have children, try to install it so it is visible from the house (especially the kitchen area).

3. Rectangular pools have good proportions (approximately five by 10 metres) and fit with most garden styles. However, if you have a very small area, a fountain will provide the sound and movement of water without taking up much space.

4. If you have a larger garden, experiment with something more organically shaped. When possible, Rule tries to make his pools look like fountains with infinity edges, or adds cascading effects.

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