Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Livin' the Outdoor Lifestyle

Back in the 1950s, the lawn was a status symbol of suburban living. The bigger and greener the lawn, the better.  The first lawn spreader was invented during this era, and the market was flooded with lawn care products. Today, we're ripping out those green lawns for eco-friendly landscaping solutions like native plants, rainwater harvesting systems, and ecosystem ponds. In addition, we're moving the indoors out ... fireplaces, cushioned furniture, gazebos, even kitchens have moved outdoors. Here's a home located in the suburbs of Chicago that truly seems to have it all when it comes to outdoor living.

Outdoor kitchen to the left, beautiful paver patio for enjoying waterfront views, and a floating deck and gazebo for personal interaction with this amazing pond and waterfall.

What a great place for entertaining! Ample seating is available on the floating deck and dining furniture is available at the far end of the paver patio, as well.

A rustic boardwalk traverses the pond, beckoning visitors to feed the fish up-close, or simply dangle feet into the cool water. By the way, this backyard is featured on a pond tour in Downers Grove, IL on August 20th. The tour is free and more information is available here.

Ornamental shrubs soften the cool, hard edges of rock and lend a calming color palette to the overall design. Very natural. While only 2 years old, this water feature looks as though it's been part of the property forever.

Mossy, well-worn rocks were hand selected to provide an aged feeling to this new water feature. The small rock urn on the right was hand-crafted and pieced together by an artistic friend and pond builder, of BJL Aquascapes in New Jersey.

The same waterfall scene all aglow with energy-efficient LED lights.

Rain dances on the pond while beautiful greenery hugs the rocks.

Large stepping stones descend from the patio to a pebble beach. This is a favorite spot of the children and their friends.

A closer view of the pebble beach where the kids can have hours of fun with their buckets and beach toys. Water lettuce at left provides an element of softness.

A fallen log slows the water before cascading over small rock pillars. What a unique waterfall design!

This outdoor paradise is a far cry from the plain, grassy turf it once was. With a little design inspiration, there's no telling what you can create in your own backyard! What element would you enjoy most? And don't forget, you can see this pond in person on August 20th during a FREE Pond Tour in Downers Grove, IL. Click here for locations, descriptions and directions to the ponds.

Linking to:
Wow Us Wednesday at Southern Savvy Style
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ponds Aren't Just for Fish

Baby, it's hot outside! If you're one of the lucky souls who has their own water garden, you can easily take advantage of its cooling magic during the dog days of summer. You can swim in a large pond (don't worry, the fish won't bite). And with a smaller pond, you can dangle your feet into its refreshing waters. A pond cools the air around it so if you're like me and hate being cooped up on a summer day ... no matter how hot ... be sure to sit by your pond where the air is cooler. A patch of shade and a gentle breeze will simply add to the refreshment you'll enjoy.

Water gardens pull kids outside, away from the TV and video games. Mom and Dad get to spend relaxing time watching their children and catching up on the day's events. This is so much better than reality TV!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waterfall Wednesday

This morning's news claimed that at least 30 states in the US will be under heat advisory at some point this week. What better way to cool off than with a refreshing waterfall ... or two ... or more? Waterfalls range from sweet and gentle to dramatic and thunderous. You can really set the mood in your backyard depending on what type of waterfall you create. So to help keep you from melting this week, rest your weary eyes on these cool, refreshing waterfalls.

This is a favorite photo for me. I love the mossy rock behind the waterfall and the way the clematis winds its way around the rock.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Personal Sacred Lotus

Water gardening means different things to different people. For some, it means the soothing sound of waterfalls. For others, it's the joy of keeping colorful koi nearby. For me, it's about gardening ... in the water ... with beautiful plants that can't be grown terrestially. This year I tried my hand at growing a sacred lotus, delivered to me by a dear friend from Alabama (an avid aquatic plant grower who thrives on thrill-seeking adventures like alligator-wrasslin', I might add). His plant provision and careful instructions have resulted in the following ...

Isn't it beautiful? I love the way the creamy petals are tinged with pink at the edges ... and the center appears to be glowing. I visit this stunning creature every morning after my almost-daily run (I'm training for a fall marathon). 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Every Deck Needs a Pond

If you're like most Americans, you probably have a deck, patio, or balcony where you can enjoy the great outdoors from the privacy of your own home. You kick your feet up in your Adirondack chair and enjoy the summer breeze blowing through your hair, but something's missing. All you see from your deck is an expanse of grass and a few trees, and what you hear are the neighbor's kids crying and their dog yapping. Your deck needs a view. And better yet, that view needs to replace irritating noises with melodic sounds. What I'm trying to say is ... your deck needs a pond!

The owners of this deck enjoy a view of a meandering stream that spills into a pond by their lower level patio. A wooden bridge invites you to sit a spell and dangle your toes in the water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Aqua Terra: Home of The Pond Guy™

Aqua Terra is a private residence gracing the western fringe of the Chicago 'burbs, complete with a one-acre ecosystem pond . The proud and happy owner is Greg Wittstock (aka "The Pond Guy") founder and CEO of Aquascape, Inc. This amazing and expansive water feature showcases a variety of water gardening elements ... too many to post all at once. For now, enjoy the splendor of a just a few highlights of this captivating habitat.

An overhead view reveals the pathway encircling and dissecting the pond. The Pond Guy™ wants visitors to appreciate all views of his personal sanctuary (that's his dad getting ready to feed the fish from the deck).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pink Waterlilies

Waterlilies are bursting from ponds across the country and today I'm honoring pink waterlilies in particular. July is National Water Gardening Month so if you've been tempted to grow some of these beauties but don't have a pond yet ... this month would be a great time to make your water garden wish come true.

So much beauty resides in this spectacular, aquatic plant. The emerging bud with its hint of pink surprise inside brings you back time and again to check on its bloom.

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