Fine Living: Backyard Oasis

outdoor living continues its explosive trend of exciting innovations,
treating Edmond residents to resort-style wonderlands just beyond the
back door.  Sleek grills and outdoor kitchens sizzle with modern
convenience.  Firepits crackle with the cozy charm of a remote cabin
retreat.  And ever-evolving plant varieties dress local landscapes in
botanical splendor.

To anchor the numerous outdoor amenities and
create the ultimate getaway that homeowners crave, nature’s simplest
element – water – plays a starring role.  In its many forms, water
compels us to reconnect with nature and indulge both our quiet and
playful moods.  Edmond’s wealth of landscape and pool professionals have
seen a number of distinct trends emerging in today’s plentiful array of
water features.


Taking their cue from indoor style preferences and today’s
time-pinched lifestyles, this season’s choice water features reflect all
the fashionable, high-tech tastes of the day.  Local experts like Clyde
Dowell, sales manager at Wholesale Hot Tubs Recreation Warehouse, note
that homeowners want all the technology they can get in their
recreational choices.  “With so many negative things going on in the
world, consumers are cautious about making investments, but when they’re
ready to go, they want all the bells and whistles,” he comments.


The broad category of
‘water gardening’ can include many things, from a simple bubbling pot
tucked in a garden, to an elaborate Koi pond.  Landscape Manager, Mike
Freeman of Edmond’s Complete Landsculpture, notes that water gardening
is really a matter of the elements that surround a water feature.  He
says, “You can have a nice Koi pond but you must have the landscape to
complement it.  You don’t want one dominating item, but the whole
backyard to make a statement.”


Lifestyle and budget are key determinants in
selecting an appropriate water feature.  Freeman says a number of
homeowners who want the relaxing sight and sound of moving water, often
opt for low-maintenance water features to accommodate their busy
lifestyles.  “Bubbling pots that cascade down into a collection pool or
urns that recycle water” are two prevalent choices, he says.


While water features
inherently create the mood and movement that bring a landscape to life,
their modern operational conveniences also add to their carefree
appeal.  ‘Pondless’ fountains and waterfalls, which cleverly hide
unsightly pump and reservoir mechanisms below ground, offer
space-conscious style and simple upkeep. 


Linda Shackelford, 30-year owner of
TLC Nursery and Greenhouses, credits the pondless feature’s longtime
popularity to its safety and low-maintenance characteristics.  “They are
a great choice because they are safe for children and easy to maintain,
yet you still get the sound and movement of water,” she says.  No
stagnant water and a choice of solar or electric power options add to
their easy appeal.


Modern advances in today’s water features are also evidenced in
the profusion of smart materials, design options and dazzling accents
available.  The heat and rust-resistant materials used at Wholesale Hot
Tubs Recreation Warehouse create durable, family-friendly pools and hot
tubs that require no exterior maintenance.  Natural colored pool
acrylics that mimic nature’s hues have gained significant popularity,
edging out the cobalt blue and teal of the 80’s.


Freeman, of Complete
Landsculpture, has seen a surge in the use of natural materials like
copper, metal, stone, river rock and boulders which harmonize with the
environment.  “Many residents like slate coping,” he says.  “The goal is
to make it look like it’s been there forever.”


Glass tiles are one of
the hottest style trends this season, lauded for their prolific color
selection and sleek texture.  Especially in modern homes, glass tiles
bring the home’s interior style outdoors, creating a consistent theme. 
Freeman says some of the best water features his company creates are
those that “have nice color and texture combos, using glass tiles and
natural stone.”  Also popular with Edmond homeowners are water features
lined with glass tiles that use spray jets.


For the more adventurous outdoor
enthusiast, Koi ponds offer the ultimate intrigue.  The colorful fish
and their mesmerizing motions add an extra dimension of nature’s beauty,
while inspiring pond-gazing – a calming antidote to today’s hectic pace
of life.  Shackelford’s design department at TLC Nursery and
Greenhouses helps create water features and has seen a steady interest
in water plants.  Water lilies and water hyacinths are choice
selections, adding beauty and functionality to ponds.


Koi ponds require expert
planning to ensure proper filtration, circulation, oxygenation, plant
life and sun exposure to control algae and protect fish.  Although it
demands greater maintenance to achieve a balanced ecosystem and arrange
heating for the pond in winter, the rewards of the tropical little
paradise are equally consuming.


A number of local residents have recently
experienced Koi thefts.  Although theft may be a factor in some
instances, Freeman advises that cats and raccoons can often be the
culprits.  An open-weave mesh netting over the pond can help prevent
loss of the prized fish, some of which can range in cost from $200-$1000
for larger species.


To create quintessential resort-style living at
home, nothing delights the senses and incites summertime freedom more
than a sparkling pool.  Waterfall ledges, fountains, underwater lights
and earthy hardscapes dress today’s private pools in luxuries once
reserved for only the finest public settings.


According to Freeman,
“nine out of 10 clients want user-ready pools with great aesthetics, but
low-maintenance upkeep.”  Beautiful and durable elements such as glass
tiles and lower-maintenance saltwater pools score big with busy Edmond
homeowners.  Freeman also comments that 90% of his pool customers choose
saltwater over chemical pools and often opt for professional pool
servicers to maintain them.


With such an impressive selection of design and
operational amenities to consider in planning a water feature, expert
consultation and installation are paramount to achieve the oasis you
envision.  Longtime pool and hot tub expert, Dowell, offers one of the
best guiding principles for pool purchasers: “Get the biggest pool that
you have the space to fit.  Family members will all show up!”

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