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Whispering Waters

There's nothing like the sound of running water to add a sense of peace to your surroundings. But you don't have to hike to a waterfall or take a vacation to enjoy the benefits of whispering waters.

A home water feature can create an instant oasis to your yard, deck, balcony — even indoors — that can be enjoyed year-round.

"Many of my clients are finding it's more sensible to invest in their yard," comments Steeley Scofield of Scofield Landscape in Jacksonville. "It creates kind of a vacation setting at home."

Some of the more popular choices for water features are bubbling rocks or creek beds, says Scofield. "Most people are staying away from ponds or a body of water." Moving water is easier to maintain; there are fewer concerns about insects breeding. Plus, reminds Scofield, there's "just the simple sound of it." Burbling water lends tranquility to both your outdoor and indoor living.

Finding the right spot is the first thing to consider, says Scofield.

"Location is very important," he says. That unused corner of the yard might seem logical, but "it might not be the most enjoyable. You want to be able to see it and hear it."

Good choices are outside your kitchen or family-room window to set the mood for both your yard and your home. "Find where it's going to fit your needs," advises Scofield.

The main requirement for a water feature is a power source. "You need to have some kind of electrical outlet," says Scofield. Bubbling rocks, waterfalls and creek beds run with recirculating pumps that require a nearby electrical outlet. If one is not available, an electrical contractor will be necessary to have one properly installed. A water source is not necessary, although routine care may mean topping off your water feature with a garden hose from time to time due to evaporation.

Once you've decided on location, it will be easier to determine the size and type of water feature that will work best. A bubbling rock, says Scofield, "can fit in the tiniest situation." A creek bed can help with xeriscaping in a small yard. Or, of course, you can think big if you have the space.

When you can go larger, you'll have a greater range of choices, says Jason Rainey of Hilton Fuel in Central Point. Different rock types and styles offer many choices in colors and shapes. Boulders can be stacked to create a water flow or drilled to let water bubble up through them.

"I can drill up to about 5 feet," says Rainey, who offers one caution: "Sandstone will split because it's a softer rock."

When custom-drilling a boulder or large rock, it's important that a forklift can access your water-feature site to move the rock into position.

"You want water to run across the rock," says Rainey, so it's important to think about drainage when looking at options. "Mostly, you want to use round rock for the drainage, or you'll kill your pump."

Whispering Waters