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Taking Cues From Nature: Naturalistic Falls and Fountains

By Stephen Kelly, regional editor

Photo Courtesy of Ed Riche






For the water features at the Eck residence in the Moon Lake community of Eagle, Idaho, Landscape Architect Loring Evans selected granite from a 1997 washout along the Payette River. "Working with M.R. Miller's crew, we placed the sculptured stones at specific locations to control the water from an upper pool to the waterfall that flows in the main basin." The pool equipment is walled into the hillside to minimize sound. The knowledge and insight of Steve Chandler, the pool contractor (Custom Pools), were critical to the success of the aquascape.


When Loring Evans, ASLA, settled in Boise, Idaho in 1977, there were fewer than 100,000 inhabitants living in this tranquil setting along the Boise River, tucked up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and less than one million people in the entire state.

"When I became licensed as a Landscape Architect in 1980, the opportunity for a design-only profession did not exist," recalls Evans, president and founder of Montgomery, Inc. For this reason, he chose to build what he designed, a decision for which he has no regrets.

"I believe to create space you have to live within that space, feel the wind, listen to the sounds and take in all that surrounds you. When you are working with plants or natural stone the design can only be conceptual on paper. When the boulders arrive and the plants lay before you that is when you begin to create."






The high ground elevation at the Two Rivers development allowed pond construction without liners. The underground abundance of cool water, coupled with the recirculation of water as it is pumped for the waterfalls, minimizes algae problems. The waterfalls, however, do have liners (60 mil.), which were installed when the boulders were placed. The soil behind the falls are first shaped and compacted to match the shape of the boulders. Concrete was applied over the stone in areas where better water control was required. Jay Grieves colored the concrete with stain to match the sandstone.


Boise, the capital city, sits at an elevation of 2,704 feet. Evans observes the city's steady growth has engendered a "renaissance of ideas to unfold in a beautiful surrounding." Yes, Boise is no longer a secret. It is the largest city in the state (about 190,000) and vies with Spokane, Wash. as the third largest city in the Northwest, after Seattle and Portland. In 2005, Boise was named "Best Place for Business and Careers" by Forbes and "Second Best City in America to Do Business" by Inc. magazine.






"I believe to create space you have to live within that space, feel the wind, listen to the sounds and take in all that surrounds you."--Loring Evans, ASLA, design/builder, president and founder of Montgomery, Inc., Boise, Idaho.



Aquascapes

For our Aquascapes issue, Loring Evans shares six of his favorite projects--two commercial endeavors (Two Rivers and North Channel, Four Estates) and four residential waterscapes--the Ecks, Clouds, Meirs and Levines.






The Two Rivers development was a pasture when Evans started. "I wanted the pond to look as though it occurred naturally over time. The plantings in back of the falls consist of a mix of spruce, pine, birch, cedar, ash, sequoia, red twig dogwood, yellow twig dogwood, potentilla and a host of ornamental grasses. Creeping red fescue was hydroseeded over the area once the plantings were complete.


Two Rivers

Two Rivers is a planned community in Eagle, Idaho with a population of 11,085 (2000 census). Eagle lies in the southwest corner of the state in a valley at the base of a mountain range that rises to over 8,500 feet. Eagle's elevation is 3,200 feet. The Boise River passes through Eagle, splitting into two channels just prior to the Two Rivers community. The property, as you expect, is within the flood plane. It was necessary to elevate the building sites and create space for water during flood conditions. This year flooding occurred. The Boise River remained at flood state for two months, Evans reports.

"Ponds were created throughout Two Rivers," he explains. "The high ground elevation allows for pond construction using no liners, thus creating an underground source of abundant, cool water. This opportunity, coupled with the recirculation of water as it is pumped for the waterfalls, minimizes much of the algae problems."






At the Levine residence, Evans created the upper pond from core-drilled sandstone to make the gurgling water visible from inside the home. A double-layered vinyl pond liner (60 mil. thickness) contains and guides the waters over the stone. "This method works well when the water source is constantly fed by ground water and diverted river water," Evans explains. The pump assembly is the same as at Two Rivers--high volume, low-pressure pumps placed in concrete vaults adjacent to the ponds and installed by Jay Caron Pump. Jay Grieves was the stone mason for both projects.


Many of the waterfalls designed for Two Rivers require 2,500 gpm to operate, achieved by the use of high volume, low pressure pumps placed in chambers adjacent to the ponds. At the point where the water passes over the stone, hand valves are used to control the water. Jay Grieve, who works with M.R. Miller, Inc., the construction team working with Evans to build the streams and falls, has mastered the placement of stones.

"His artful eyes take concepts and build ideas into reality," Evans describes. "A waterfall cannot be drawn completely on paper. Every stone has its own personality and must be considered at the time of construction. The smallest pieces can significantly impact the flow of water."






Many of the waterfalls designed at Two Rivers require 2,500 gpm to operate, achieved by the use of high volume, low pressure pumps placed in concrete vaults adjacent to the ponds, installed by Jay Caron Pump of Eagle, Idaho. At the point where the water passes over the stone, hand valves are used to control the water. A 10" intake extends out into the ponds, then into the pump vault. A screen fits over the end of the inlet pipe. The largest waterfall requires two 5-hp pumps.


Evans likes to surround the ponds and waterfalls with woods of spruce, pine, birch, poplar and shrubs like willow, serviceberry and red and yellow twig dogwood.

His design goal is to create the appearance of natural existing ponds, falls and streams. This can be achieved by creating, for example, springs flowing from the hillside. In areas where streets pass closer to ponds, water sculptures were created by core drilling individual sandstone boulders. The streams and pond perimeter are river cobble granite extracted from the site during pond construction.

Dennis Baker, the developer of Two Rivers and his project engineer, Dan Torfin, share Evans' vision for this waterside community. The blending of their ideas and the work of a hundred or more artisans created Two Rivers. Mike Baker, the son of Dennis, and his crew did the planting of trees and meadows that define the community. The anticipated completion of the community is spring of 2007, which is three years ahead of Baker's earlier projection.

"The opportunity for employment and the exceptional beauty of Idaho has opened the gates for a renaissance of growth. The need to house all the new arrivals has accelerated our date of completion. I welcome the design challenge and am grateful for it."






Loring Evans designed and had constructed a number of waterfalls that cascade from the sides of the many ponds within the Two Rivers development. Craftsman Jay Grieves, of MR Miller Inc., directed the placement of the sandstone quarried from the Owyhee Mountain Range south of Boise.


North Channel

North Channel is a commercial complex of restaurants, offices, a service station and a child-care facility just a mile north of Two Rivers adjacent to the Boise River. Within the complex are four different water sculptures placed in central courtyards for optimal public enjoyment. The seatwalls that surround the sculptures afford places for relaxation and contemplation.

Eck Residence

The Eck residence, built in 1998 by Johnston Construction, is situated in the Moon Lake community, designed by Gerhart Borbonas and Loring Evans for Ron Sali Development in 1997. Moon Lake is in Eagle, three miles west of the town center. Evans selected granite for the water features. The stone was obtained from a washout that occurred in 1997 along the south fork of the Payette River, adjacent to the main road leading to the towns of Crouch and Garden Valley.

"These stones have been sculpted for thousands of years by the river's energy," says Evans. "Working with M.R. Miller's crew, we placed the sculptured stones at specific locations to control the water from an upper pool to the waterfall that flows in the main basin."

An infinity edge along the east side was positioned so that from inside the home the separation between the pool and lake blend as a single plane of water. The pool equipment is set into a wall built into the hillside to minimize sound. Steve Chandler with Custom Pools was the pool contractor, whose knowledge and insight were critical to the success of the project. In the front entry of the home Evans chose to set off the circular driveway with a central spouting sculpture of core-drilled granite, shaped by the river for centuries. Surrounding the sculpture is a water basin with a seatwall along the perimeter. Perennials, groundcovers and ornamental grasses adorn the space between the sculpture and driveway.






The spa shape at the Meier residence was defined by having all family members sit within seats carved specially for their body form during construction. The seats in the spa were framed by gunite. Rounded pebbles were mortared in place to create a comfortable but natural appearance. Stone stairs and a walkway connect the spa to the swimming pool. Jeff Smith was the mason and Ken Schmitt of Natural Pools was responsible for the gunite and filters for the pools and spa construction. Perennials adorn the areas above the wall along with topiary juniper. The homesite looks out over the city so no large trees were planted except along the perimeter of the view corridor.


Cloud Residence

The Cloud residence in Terra Nativa is a development in the foothills three miles northwest of Boise's city center. Large rock outcroppings of sandstone and basalt occur throughout these hillsides. The stones Evans selected for this water feature were from a quarry with similar geological formations.

"My intent was to meld the landscape into the existing high desert surroundings," Evans said.

Jeff Smith of International Stone worked with Evans. "Without his interpretation my concept could not unfold. Often I find myself in the position of quarterback. I call the play, but once I toss the ball it is the strength of the receiver that leads to the touchdown."






The Eck residence was designed by Landscape Architect Loring Evans and Gerhart Borbonas for Ron Sali Development and built by Johnston Construction. For the front entry of the home Evans choose to set off the circular driveway with a central spouting sculpture of core-drilled granite, stones sculpted for thousands of years by the Payette River near the town of Banks, Idaho, about 60 miles from the residence. Evans cored-drilled each stone at a position where water could pass over those eroded areas once again. Surrounding the sculpture is a water basin with a seat wall along the perimeter. Perennials, groundcovers and ornamental grasses adorn the space between the sculpture and driveway.


Meir Residence

The Meir residence is in the foothills northwest of Boise. Springs emerge from these hillsides, allowing stands of poplar, hackberry, wildrose and currant to blossom. The Meir family likes to enjoy active outdoor activities, and thus, Evans' intent was to create a setting to let that energy flourish.

"We wanted to create an appearance to the spa that was similar to hot springs occurring naturally," says Evans. His design is inspired by the state's great beauty and magnificent open spaces. The larger stones selected for the spa were quarried from the Crazy Horse Mine owned and operated by Jeff Smith. The mine is located in Marsing, Idaho, a small town close to the Snake River, 30 miles from Eagle. Jeff mortared rounded pebbles within the basin of the spa as well.

"The rock outcroppings existing naturally here were the inspiration for the spa built above the main pool," says Evans.

The seats in the spa were framed by gunite. Rounded pebbles were mortared in place to create a comfortable but natural appearance. Jeff Smith was again the mason on the project. Ken Schmitt with Natural Pools was responsible for the gunite and filters for the pools and spa construction.

Levine Residence

The Levine residence is six miles north of Boise. The proximity to the Boise River and the area's high water table allowed Evans to use the groundwater. The water was pumped over sandstone similar to that used at Two Rivers. A 60 mil. liner was placed behind the stone and mortar was used at critical points on the falls to control the flow.

"My intent was to create a spring that flowed to the pond. The natural beauty that exists in Idaho is often my guide to design," Evans offers.

As the population increases in Idaho, Evans expects the demand for the artful use of water to grow. He has a number of projects proposed in McCall and Donnelly, and says new communities are being proposed adjacent to Cascade Lake in the mountains of central Idaho about 75 miles north of Boise. The opportunities for pond construction there is vast, but he cautions the wetlands need protection and require riparian plantings to protect wildlife.






The River Shore Martz Bldg. Water Feature Team:

  • Dennis M. Baker
  • Dan Torfin, project engineer
  • Loring M. Evans, ASLA, landscape architect
  • Jay Grieves, M. R. miller, stone mason & brick mason
  • Jesus Corona, dry stack wall contractor
  • A to Z Sprinkler, irrigation
  • Caron Pump
  • Evolution Landscape and Planting
  • Gem Gunite Pools, Inc.






The water feature in front of the River Shore Martz Building is also core-drilled sandstone. The pump assembly is located in a concrete chamber made of five foot diameter rings set at a depth of 18 feet below the ground. The building's close proximity to the Boise River creates a water table close to the surface. The ground water is circulated through the sandstone columns using a 5 hp carry pump the produces 950 gpm at a 10-foot lift. A 6-in. dia. pipe delivers the water from the pump chamber with a 12-inch return. The interior basin is granite with a white plaster surface. The larger boulders and the planting island are built in the center of the feature on top of the granite basin. The pump chamber, located to the north of the step-shaped seat wall, is hidden by the sandstone wall and plantings. Deodora cedar, blue atlas cedar, a blend of ornamental grasses comprise the principal planting design, with dragon's blood sedium and periwinkle as the groundcovers. The exterior seat walls are constructed with concrete filled block set in a two foot deep foundation, with 5/8-inch rebar placed internally at the two foot centers to reinforce the wall. The brick color was selected to match the River Shore Martz Building.




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June 26, 2019, 11:59 am PDT

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