Creating A Small Water Feature

Creating A Small Water Feature

Part of Ep. 1203 From Distant Shores Pledge Special

Avant Gardening's Liza Litefoot, originally from South Africa, shows how simple it is to construct a small water feature for the yard, patio or garden.

Premiere date: Jul 21, 2004

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Ryan:
This is lovely, and would look great in any garden. Today, we're going to learn how to create our own little water feature. We're at Avant Gardening and Landscapes in McFarland. I'm with the owner, Liza Lightfoot. Thank you, Liza, for letting us visit today. I understand you came here by a long route. You're originally from South Africa. How did you end up in Wisconsin?

Liza Lightfoot:
I left South Africa in 1973 and I went to England and lived there for a year where I worked for a nursery called Clifton Nursery. That's where I got my foot in the door in the green industry. I came to America after that, traveled around quite a bit lived in a few places and came to Wisconsin one summer and loved it and here I am today.

Ryan:
We're glad you're here with your expertise, too. One of the things we're going to talk about is the fact that your company specializes in creating small water features rather than large ponds. Why?

Lightfoot:
Well, a lot of my clients request water features in their gardens but they really don't have an idea of how much work is involved in a larger pond.

Ryan:
And cost, too?

Lightfoot:
And cost, exactly. These small water features really serve their function to give them the sound of water, ambience and light and the sparkle that you get from a water feature. And they attract birds as well, sometimes. So, they can have the water without having all of the work that goes into a pond.

Ryan:
I'm assuming there's a bit more flexibility in where to put something like this because it's not a big pond.

Lightfoot:
Exactly. You could put them in a small courtyard. You can put them under a group of trees. The sky's the limit in terms of what you can do.

Ryan:
Excellent. Let's talk about the one we're going to build.

Lightfoot:
The one we're going to build is based on the concept of a spring stone. It's a stone with a hole drilled through it. The water comes up through it, bubbles over the stone and splashes down onto some aggregate around the stone. How we build it, we dig a hole.

Ryan:
Probably the hard part!

Lightfoot:
That's the hard part probably the most work of the entire thing. We line it with crushed limestone or "choker" is what some people call it. We place the pond liner on top of that along the shallow sides of the hole.

Ryan:
Won't it be punctured by this limestone that you put in there?

Lightfoot:
No, it's fine and soft enough that it won't actually pierce through the pond liner.

Ryan:
And why is that in there then?

Lightfoot:
It's to stop the pond liner from getting a hole pierced through it from some kind of other element, whatever it is.

Ryan:
Stepping on it, or something like that. It's padding.

Lightfoot:
Yeah, essentially we build a rectilinear structure out of loose bricks or a concrete block that houses the pump. The pump is inside of there, attached to an electrical cable that's waterproof.

Ryan:
Good!

Lightfoot:
There's a small pipe that comes up out of the black plastic and we attach a see-through pipe a transparent pipe that goes through the spring stone so that you really don't see it when the water comes out.

Ryan:
For this "magical" water.

Lightfoot:
Then, we fill the hole with aggregate. You can start out with loose brick something that's very porous, that holds water. And then, we top dress it with a nice, Mississippi River stone.

Ryan:
Something pretty, ornamental.

Lightfoot:
Exactly. Tthe water bubbles through the spring stone and splashes onto the aggregate and circulates that way.

Ryan:
Wonderful. I'm assuming the pond liner and pump and things are at pond stores or garden supply stores.

Lightfoot:
Readily available.

Ryan:
And the size of the pump will vary the bubbling?

Lightfoot:
Exactly. You'll have a stronger spray with a bigger pump and more of an ambient bubbling with a smaller pump.

Ryan:
The stronger the spray, the bigger the hole so the water isn't lost on the edges.

Lightfoot:
Exactly.

Ryan:
You have another one here that is just exquisite in its simplicity. And you said I could make this with things in my own garage?

Lightfoot:
A five-gallon bucket is all you need. We used a grid from a refrigerator a shelf from a refrigerator.

Ryan:
Excellent, so an old grill.

Lightfoot:
Exactly. You dig a hole, place the bucket in it. The pump is in the bucket. The pipe comes up through the bucket through the grid into a fountain-type of attachment. You place weed barrier fabric over the grid and then place your bricks or your stone on top of the grid so you don't see the bucket.

Ryan:
Yeah, or the grid.

Lightfoot:
Right, and then fill the bucket with water and turn on the pump. The whole thing circulates and gives you this wonderful little spurt of water in your garden.

Ryan:
And you can do it formal like you've done with the square stones or just found rocks that I've been collecting for many years. You've also got one done with a beautiful container that's just gorgeous. I can't help but notice these beautiful little pieces of artwork scattered amongst the water features. Tell me about these.

Lightfoot:
Well, I originally come from South Africa and South Africa has a wonderful array of arts and crafts that are developed by some of the artisans there. They're developed by communities that need a lot of income. They're subsistence communities, and this is one way I can help bring Americans dollars back into their community by selling their arts and crafts here in America along with our water features.

Ryan:
It's a wonderful thing to do and they look great in the garden. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us Liza.

Lightfoot:
Thank you.

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