By Alexandra Pecci
There’s something magical about moving water and its ability to influence our emotions and moods, from the joyful leaping water of a fountain, to the exciting rush of a waterfall, to the relaxing lull of a babbling brook. And when moving water is harnessed in a poolscape, the results are no less interesting and dramatic.
“The world is moving at a faster pace, and people are trying to grasp onto something to make them feel centered,” says Lucas Congdon, president of Lucas Lagoons Incorporated and the star of the Animal Planet television show “Insane Pools.” “Just having the movement of water in any form is going to give you a calming feeling, inspire you, and get your imagination going as well.”
Whether it’s a simple deck jet, a chic and sleek water wall, or even the illusion of “floating” water, water features lend a remarkable array of ambiences and atmospheres to enhance your pool and outdoor living landscape. Bruce Riley, managing director at RicoRock Inc., says water features can also transport us, evoking sounds of nature and reminders of “fun at natural parks or even resort hotels.”
“It adds another dimension to your yard. You want to hear, feel, see, and smell,” agrees Carla Sovernigo, president and CFO of Alka Pool Construction Ltd. “The sound of water is just another dimension to add.”
In addition to being beautiful and mood-enhancing, Sovernigo adds that water features are handy for masking the sound of outside noises, such as nearby traffic or neighbors. They’re also a wonderful and elegant way to set your pool apart and make it a bit different than standard, old-fashioned pools with little personality.
“You are seeing fewer cookie-cutter pools with no water features at all,” says Michael Miller, associate product manager for filters and white goods at Hayward Pool Products.
Photo by Scott G Morris/Hayward Pool Products
Water features lend ambience and atmosphere to pool designs in myriad ways.
You’re only limited by your imagination
Although water features have become part of the standard for luxury pool design, the number and variety of water features available to homeowners are anything but. Water features have also never been more interesting, whether pool owners are designing a natural-rock style pool with dreamy grottos or a minimalist-style pool with sleek lines and modern touches.
“You’re only limited by your imagination,” says Sovernigo. Whatever water features pool owners use, though, Sovernigo says it’s crucial to ensure that they incorporate seamlessly into the overall design and style of the pool and the outdoor living space.
“It’s nice that it works together,” she says. “Not just the style of it, but the finishes.”
With than in mind, many water features are versatile. For instance, Sovernigo says she especially loves water walls, thanks to the visual experience of the water cascading down the wall and the musical sound it makes; the materials that they’re made from can greatly affect how the water wall looks and sounds.
“It can become chameleon-like simply by the finishes and shapes you choose,” she says.
The water will travel differently over smooth glassy surfaces than it will over more textured surfaces. Descents—which create a sheer cascade of water that emerges from a slot in a wall—are also very elegant and popular water features, Sovernigo says.
Riley also notes that customers like “cascading waterfalls for the soothing sound and sheet waterfalls for the drama and sparkle.”
Photo by by Geza Darrah
Lucas Lagoons mainly creates naturalistic looking water features.
Creating timeless beauty
Congdon creates a range of water features for his clients, like the Roman-style pool he was working on this winter—complete with sculptures, architectural elements, and water features such as overflowing marble urns.
His clients love a wide range of pools, from lagoon-style pools with natural rock waterfalls and big grottos to minimalistic pools with sleek lines and infinity edges that extend around the entire perimeter of the pool. But whatever style of pool he’s working on, Congdon favors natural materials, like beach pebbles, travertine, and natural stone, which are always elegant and tend not to make pools look dated.
“We mainly create naturalistic water features,” he says. “A lot of people want things that are authentic. I don’t see the artificial rock being as big of a thing anymore.” He says his clients want real stone, whether done in a modern or naturalistic way, adding that “they want it to feel real.”
“Even in modern design, I like to use natural materials,” he says. “With the natural material, it gives them a timeless look.”
Falling water always seems to be timeless, too, whether the water is flowing over a rambling cascade of natural stone in a naturalistic pool that evokes secluded swimming holes, falling in sparkling rivulets down a glass wall that’s illuminated with LED lights, pattering gently from a rain curtain, or rippling over a beach pebble water wall.
“Rocks and waterfalls never go out of style,” Riley says.
Photo courtesy of RicoRock Inc./Rock Springs Designs
Evoking drama and whimsy
Bubblers, laminar jets, and deck jets are also popular for pool owners looking to add water features to their pools, and depending on how they’re designed and employed, each can evoke drama, whimsy, and everything in between.
“In some cases, it’s something for kids to play with. In other cases, it elevates the appeal of the pool,” says Miller. “People go to resorts and these high-end pools, and they want to bring that back to their own backyard.”
He says that’s especially the case with bubblers and deck jets. Bubblers, in which water bubbles up and back onto itself, are an especially popular feature to add to sun shelfs, and when they’re lit, they’re even more beautiful.
“I think there’s more and more people who want to add lighting to their water features.” Miller says. “You’ve not only got that effect during the day but at night.”
LED lights are available in different colors and can light up bubblers, deck jets, and laminars with beautifully arcing, colored streams of water. In addition, Miller says pool owners embracing the use of controls for their lighted water features that interface with the overall pool control for complete ease of use.
Photo courtesy of Alka Pool Contruction
Water features are an elegant way to set your pool apart from other designs.
Embracing the modern
With modern and minimalistic pools gaining in popularity, there are water features to match.
“In our neck of the woods, contemporary is very popular,” says Sovernigo, adding that geometric-shaped water features can perfectly accompany modern designs.
“I feel like the modern trend is coming back pretty strong,” Congdon says. “I have been drawn to more of a minimalistic feel as well lately.”
He’s been especially excited about a style that he has dubbed “modern Zen.” These designs are minimalist, but are anything but boring, with sleek, geometric lines, and lovely, meditative details like rain curtains and infinity edges that spill over into a modern waterfall and catch basin below. In the pools that he’s envisioning, everything is based on water, including seating, outdoor rooms, and fire.
“Instead of building a pool inside of land, building land inside of the pool…playing tricks on the mind,” he says. “It’s something that I have envisioned for a long time. It just seems like you’re floating on water.”
But whatever water feature you incorporate into your pool design, you can be sure that it will create a magical effect.
“It’s just natural for us to gravitate toward it,” Sovernigo says.