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Waterscapes Showcase
By Michelle Medaris and Kyle Cavaness

RidgeCrest Landscaping & Lawn Care

When this Center Valley, Pa., residence was purchased, the backyard had a simple patio, an overgrown pond and a steep hillside covered in weeds. To begin, RidgeCrest Landscaping & Lawn Care graded the 60 percent hillside with two Kubota U35 excavators. The main feature of the backyard, the trout filled pond, was completely removed and reengineered and now has two pumps: an Easy Pro 13,500 GPH and a ShinMaywa 10,500 GPH that work in unison to pump water down a 42-foot cascading stream. The pond, filtered by an Aqua Ultra UV System along with an Aqua Ultra 6,000-gallon biological filter, is lit with LED submersible lights. Approximately 260 tons of boulders and 30 tons of "hand" boulders were placed in the streambed and pond.

Water features designed and built by LC/DBM readers have been pouring into the office for weeks, flowing from the coastal cliffs of Southern California to the muddy banks of Maryland. Our editors chose eight spectacular installations for a special water feature showcase, illustrating the aquatic possibilities for residential, commercial and campus projects in a diverse group of states and sites.

Earth Sculpture Design

Homeowners in Escondido, Calif., purchased this three-acre lot and asked Earth Sculpture Design's Todd Cur? to fit a pool among existing rock formations in the backyard. The irregularly shaped pool is more than 40 feet long and 30 feet wide, and incorporates a vanishing edge 10 feet above grade on one side near a small patio. A steel cage for the pool was installed about three inches off the surface of the adjacent boulders. A layer of Visqueen sheeting was taped to the boulder interface so the shotcrete would not bond with the rocks during installation, disconnecting the pool from the boulders in case the rocks shift.

The existing boulders were repurposed as amenities, including a 'beach rock' that was unearthed during the excavation and became an island where the homeowners can relax. Another rock provides a jumping off point, where swimmers can leap into depths of more than 10 feet near the vanishing edge. One large rock that was cracked throughout provided another water feature opportunity, as Cur? instructed plumbers to run flexible PVC pipe through the crevices to send water cascading over the rock's face. ESD designed a terraced landscape with tiers that lead to the pool, which sits about three feet lower than the home's foundation.

Land Expressions

Land Expressions of Mead, Wash., was contracted by Ball Ventures, a real estate investment firm, to install a sprawling, mile-long cascading water feature at the planned community, Snake River Landing. The water feature makes use of 1,000 tons of native basalt, which was used to create weirs and pools down the river-like bed. A vertical turbine pump, manufactured by SyncroFlo, dispenses 4,300 gallons per minute and provides water to three discharge points. Incredibly, the project was completed in four months.

Theme Designs Studios

When Roland Ybarra, president of El Toro Mexican restaurants, fell in love with the Wynn Hotel's entryway water feature, he was inspired to recreate the look at one of his Baytown, Texas restaurant locations. The goal of the project was to build a quaint outdoor eating area with the water feature as the focal point.

The faux rock water feature, with three fire inserts, stands 16 feet high by 30 feet wide and has 10 cascading sheet waterfalls, which circulate 35,000 gallons of water per hour with four pumps. The pump house is located under the water feature and the service station is part of the support structure.

For nighttime dramatics, 30 LED submersible lights by PatioGate, a Houston, Texas based manufacturer, illuminate the 10 pools. Landscaping in this water feature includes two green roofs - one is 10 by six feet and the other 14 by eight feet--which incorporates bougainvillea, lantana and verbena to name a few. The water feature took five weeks to complete.

JJ Hayden, Inc.

The Eclipse Center in Beloit, Wis., is a former shopping mall that was converted into a mixed-use municipal center. JJ Hayden, Inc., transformed the slope from the parking lot to the street into a waterfall with a six-foot drop. The feature, which provides a dynamic entry point for the city of Beloit, required 550 tons of Glacial Outcropping to anchor the waterfall, which was installed in full veneer stone over shotcrete. The falls send 250,000 gallons per hour over the center's entry signage using two Tsurumi pumps: a 10 horsepower model and a 7.5 horsepower model. The project scope included the landscaping featuring dwarf Scotch pines, a weeping hemlock and a mix of perennials and annuals.

Great Oaks Landscape

Visitors entering this Auburn Hills, Mich., estate encounter a 12-foot tall, 120-foot long waterfall, created by Great Oaks Landscape and fed by a man-made pond. At full tilt, more than 6,000 gallons flow over the lip every minute from a concealed water source. A 10'x10' underground vault holds the plumbing, pumps, and mechanics that operate three waterfall zones, which can operate separately or simultaneously depending on the wishes of the client. A controller switch can change the water from a roaring cascade to a gentle flow that the children can play in.


Blending the landscaping with the surrounding desert, Realm of Tuscon, Ariz., designed and handled this backyard installation in nearby Saddlebrooke, which included a 30-foot-long, L-shaped, Gunite and Pebble Tec pool, a travertine deck, unobtrusive fencing and native plantings with passive water harvesting.

Serving as another water feature, three planters built from concrete masonry units and clad with travertine were plumbed to recirculate water from the pool through custom-fabricated scuppers.

TDH Landscaping, LLC

TDH Landscaping, LLC, was contracted to construct a retreat setting at a residential property in Owings Mills, Md. Boulder steps lead to custom waterfalls, which empty into a pond. The client wanted the pond to include a mist effect. A custom stream meanders from the pond to the back of the property. TDH designed the elements and installed the waterfalls, pond, stream, boulder steps, boulder walls, grotto and plant material.

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August 21, 2019, 1:35 am PDT

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