The Horizon Structures Free Run-In Shed Finds Its Home in Union, Missouri

As temperatures of 105°F seared the landscape at Union, Missouri, Bill Wisdom and his family were pleased to see the small but mighty ‘mule’ from Horizon Structures trundle expertly up their driveway to deliver their free run-in shed.

“It was in place within 15 minutes of being offloaded from the truck. We had made a small driveway to the prepared level site pad and the driver set it efficiently just where we wanted it. An easy experience and no hitches despite us living off the main road,” explained Bill Wisdom, the proud new owner of the 10’x 20’ board and batten structure.

Bill and his wife Sara, and two daughters, 15-year-old Grace and 17-year-old Olivia, were the winners of the Horizon Structures Barn Giveaway Contest for 2022 and were delighted with the quality and craftsmanship of their new building.

“We’ve placed it in a 4-acre field that we have yet to fence. The field is partly trees and partly open and will be the home of my daughter Grace’s first horse. We have the posts in the ground, but the fencing is yet to be run, and meantime we have to buy the horse. Grace has been working at a local ranch as a stable hand and taking riding lessons to earn the money to buy her first horse. Her mother has a lot of experience with horses, so she will be helping in the selection process.”

Bill explained that his youngest daughter is planning to take High School classes in Equine Studies with the prospect of attending college to garner a degree in the subject afterward.

When asked if he had any experience or knowledge of Horizon Structures as the leading producer of modular horse barns in the country, Bill explained that he had been looking online for a shelter and came across Horizon during his search on You Tube.

“I was researching backyard barn options and came across local prefabricated barn builders and others. I saw the Horizon Structures products and saw the Blast into Spring 2022 Contest and thought why not enter. And now here we are! I don’t know how long we will have just one horse to use the shelter. My wife has always wanted to start a 501(c) rescue. She would love to offer shelter for all sorts of animals in the future.”

The menagerie of animals on the 18-acre property located on the outskirts of Union, Missouri, already includes 5 goats, 2 miniature donkeys and chickens.

“One of the goats and one of the donkeys is pregnant. So at least 2 more animals are on the way. And I plan to buy two peacocks. We also have two Great Pyrenees dogs that watch over them all.”

The Wisdoms have not always lived in Union. The property was purchased just over a year ago after the family sold their 2004 home in Ditmar that they had built.

“Our previous home was a ranch house and was set on two acres, and we always knew we wanted more space. When the market moved up and it was the right time to sell, we were able to sell our home there and found this property that had been sitting on the market a while, so we bought at a good price, and it was good timing.”

Working well with numbers comes easily to the couple, as Sara works for the Federal Reserve Bank and spends 95% of her time working from home remotely while Bill commutes 4 days a week to a stock brokerage house in St. Louis where he is the Director of Regulatory Compliance in Securities for the company.

Bill explained he enjoyed his downtime from his job working on their smallholding, plowing the driveway of snow in winter with his Kubota and making improvements to the property year-round.

“The temperatures in winter here regularly hit below zero, sometimes to -15°F, and snow is hit and miss but 8 to 10 inches of snowfall at a time is not unusual. The run-in shed will be the perfect shelter for the horse. We’ve placed the shed not too far from the house, so plans are to run water to the shed. We currently have an older stable that will house 3 horses, and a 30’ x 60’ pole barn that has a workshop and bathroom that is partitioned with an area for the goats and donkeys to take shelter. If we have needs in the future for more structures, I will definitely call Horizon. The team there has been a pleasure to deal with and we love their product!”

Commercial Builds of Pavilions, Pergolas and Gazebos

From firehouses to State Parks, corporate lunch spaces to community gardens, outdoor living structures that offer some form of protection from adverse wet weather, shelter from the hot sun and possibly storage for supplies, is always a welcome addition.

Deciding between the flexible pavilion that accommodates multi-size gatherings; the elegance of a commercial pergola to define an area of natural beauty and perhaps provide a park bench inside on which passers-by can sit and reflect, or showcasing events on an open commercial gazebo bandstand can improve the enjoyment of a community event and offer sincere benefits to the participants.

One thing is certain. A fixed outdoor living structure offers a permanent advantage over tents with their peg and line tripping issues, concrete lot damage with peg installation, and their ‘Wizard of Oz’ moments. All of which add up to a high-risk assessment with tent use for lawsuits being issued against the town or organization, from people becoming accidentally hurt while attending an event.

Here are a few tips to consider as you embark on embracing the outdoor living structure lifestyle for your project:

Costing and Capabilities

It is inevitable that the question of funding the outdoor living structure will come into play. The least expensive option is not always the best choice, so carefully consider the actual planned use of the space and identify future possible needs when it comes to sizing and siting.

For example, a pergola may be less expensive than a pavilion, but its use will be limited during poor weather. A summer shower can ruin an event, and if the structure is being used for winter holiday events (they make a beautiful gathering spot at vineyards and orchards for Fall harvest events and ski resort mixers on the slopes), it needs to have a roof.

Kitchen appliances and food/buffet dining set ups with hot plates, musicians’ equipment such as amplifiers and instruments, may require electrical service. Keeping these items safe and dry is essential. Thus, in these cases, a pavilion is a better choice than a commercial pergola.

On the other hand, a large gazebo can provide a ‘step up’ from the topography of a flat lawn or garden area, and highlight the event being held. Whether music is played, and singers perform, or speeches are being given, the sound will carry further afield and the audience will all have the opportunity to witness the participants in action.

The site that is chosen for placement of the structure should also be carefully considered.

A gravel path or garden surround can set off the structure adding aesthetic appeal and make access easy and mud free. But if the structure is placed near a pond or water source, there is a risk of flooding and wet ground causing even the most compacted gravel or stone base to move or subside.

Consider if vehicular access will be needed for placement of heavy items such as cookers or multiple items such as chairs and tables will need to be set up in the area and ensure that the structure is not placed in an area where it can be damaged by falling boughs from trees or excessive high winds.

Commercial or Residential… Start Your Outdoor Living Project HERE

Security Concerns and Storage Options

Lighting, fencing and security monitoring via a WIFI device or CC set up may be needed to ensure the structure remains unhindered during periods of inactivity. This is especially important if there are plans to house any supplies within the structure.

Securing a pavilion with overhead doors or curtains is a good way to protect the interior space from snow and bad weather, debris such as dead leaves and offers the ability to lock up the space to safely contain supplies such as tables and chairs and minimize the risk of vandalism or theft.

Corner members of structures can be protected from accidental damage from errant parking incidents with bollards or containers of flowers or shrubs.

 Pave It

Necessarily outdoor living structures used in a community setting will enjoy a lot of foot traffic during their use. Get ahead of the worn grass paths, muddy slip slide and possibility of lawsuits over people tripping or falling over with the installation of pavers or concrete.

Rubber pavers offer a good solution to sound mitigation, and stone or concrete (the latter can be laid with a special machine to both color the concrete and given an effect of paving if preferred to actual stone laying), are all good options.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events. This will help improve safety for the audience and for the performers and improve event management as it allows the ‘players’ orchestrating the provisions and attendees to come and go freely.

Pathways should be wide enough to allow passing of patrons and not be a single file option. Visitors may be pushing strollers or using wheelchairs, so consideration for disabilities and family use should be incorporated in the design. There is a litany of regulations in this regard, both Federal and State, so do your due diligence if the structure is in the public domain or to be utilized for public access.

Whatever ground surface cover you install make sure it will handle the application of salt or de-icing products if needed during winter and stay weed and maintenance free during summer. Bear in mind gravel paths do not handle snow blowing equipment or plowing well and paved surfaces cannot handle heavy equipment without cracking unless installed to premium cost specifications.

Making the right decision on materials and their application and specifications will help keep your labor costs down for many years, although an occasional reseal may be needed over time.

Roof Designs

The structure’s roof design and material will affect not just its ability to withstand high winds and snow loads, but also how rain, ice and snow are shed off the roof.

Guttering may be needed for a pavilion structure to mitigate dripping rain from the roofline, and the use of shingle versus metal roof products should be considered if icing and snow load is likely to be a problem.

Snow guards or ice guards should not be necessary as the interior/exterior temperature of the space covered by the outdoor living structure is similar but depending on use and location roof materials and design should be evaluated.

Light It Up

One of the great advantages of an outdoor living structure is it lends itself to installation of lights to add ambience and a practical aspect to use of the space from dusk into night.

The structure’s frame members can be hung with lights to achieve a romantic or party atmosphere and corner posts make perfect pillars for heavier lighting fixtures.

By making temporary lighting easy to accomplish with provision of fixed hooks, the hanging lights can be quickly removed and safely stored after events and plug-in speakers and lights can similarly be handled, while security cameras and lighting can remain year-round. The latter should be fastened at a height that makes them difficult to reach from the back of a pickup bed or without the use of a ladder.

Funding Ideas

Grants both private and public, funding from corporate entities or private individuals are all great means to fund the outdoor structure project. Larger manufacturers and providers of outdoor living structures often offer financing options, so don’t be shy to ask for help.

GSA compliant companies may be able to offer special discounts and terms.

Social media funding rounds on community platforms are also a great resource to explore if the community kitty needs replenishment to afford the purchase.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for commercial gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events.

Chicken Keeping Options – From Free Range to Coops and Everything In Between

When you choose to keep your chickens safe and secure from predators by providing them with their own hen house or chicken coop, the confinement can alter everything from the nutritional benefit of their eggs to their ability to ward off mites by dusting themselves off in dirt.

The provision of a covered chicken run adjacent to the coop resolves some of the common issues with keeping chickens ‘cooped up’ but not all.

Advantages of the free-range method of chicken keeping are many. Perhaps the most significant is the amount of money it can save on purchase of commercial chicken feed. Of course, you will need to ‘hunt and peck’ to find their eggs around the garden and may miss a few from time to time or scavenge an old egg without realization that it is not fit to eat. But the added benefits of their prowess at finding their own dining delights cannot be overlooked.

The middle ground between free range and cooping chicken keeping is the use of a chicken tractor and/or fencing an area for their safety.

The chicken tractor has become increasingly popular as a viable option for homesteading on a small or large property.

The efficiency of chickens to ‘grub around’ and mitigate pesky insects and bugs notwithstanding, the undeniable fact is that a free-range chicken is at risk for becoming dinner or even worse, entertainment, for fauna further up the food chain.

There are advocates on both side of the chicken wire fence on this topic, and if you are confused as to what method is the best choice it is smart to look at your own individual nature rather than that of the birds.

While certain breeds of chickens may lend themselves better to ownership by the neophyte backyard chicken-keeper than others due to their friendliness and overall egg production quality and quantity, it is you, the owner, who will need to examine yourself as to which chicken-keeping preference you should favor.

Questions to ask yourself may include:

  • Do I have kids or other family members that will be upset by the loss of a bird or part of the flock over time?
  • How much time do I have to search for eggs?
  • Does my garden mean the world to me with flower beds and shrubs or will digging, foraging and dirt patches on the lawn cause no concern?
  • Do I have room to move the chicken tractor about and the inclination and equipment to do it?
  • How cleanable is a coop and what should I do to make sure if I choose a coop for housing the hens that it requires minimal labor?
  • Do I have dogs or other pets that will trouble the chickens?
  • Do I care what my chickens eat outside of commercial feed?
  • How much do bugs in the backyard bother me?
  • Will my kids be collecting eggs? An easy exterior collect coop can be a boon for busy families where you don’t want to walk inside the messy coop in your work shoes.
  • What wildlife is in my environment, and will predation be a major headache?
  • Can I lessen coop workload by using smart technology like coop doors on automatic timers? Can I afford these upgrades?
  • Does your garden offer natural shade options for hot weather and natural shelter in adverse or inclement weather?

Well, you get the idea. There are options but only you can choose the ones that will work best for your individual lifestyle.

Chores can quickly become onerous after the initial excitement of growing chicks up into adults that lay eggs for use in the home kitchen passes, despite the benefits of the ample egg supply of known provenance.

There is a litany of resources on the pros and cons of different chicken keeping methods so no need to repeat them here. But the choice of which to pick will become clear once you examine the realities of the options. Get informed before you start! It’s a lot easier than figuring it out as you go along.

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Barn Design Tips to Help Manage Horses on Stall Rest

Despite our best efforts horses often injure themselves or suffer illnesses that require a period of confinement in a stall. For the equine caregiver the task of managing a horse or pony over several days, weeks or even months to optimize their chances of making a full recovery by restricting exercise can be onerous task fraught with worry.

Thoughtful barn design features can help assuage the negatives associated with horse stall rest. Here are a few tips and some helpful advice on how to navigate the confinement period and keep your horse or pony as happy and healthy as possible.

Divide and Conquer

There are many good reasons to have at least one dividing stall wall in the barn adaptable for combining two stalls into one should needs require. Foaling out a mare; housing a mare and foal; accommodation for a large breed of horse such as a draft horse; housing two or more animals such as donkeys together. In addition, a double stall can provide flexibility in space for the horse that is in rehab and requires more than the usual 10’ x 12’ or 12’ x 12’ stable but is not yet healed enough for turnout.

To help prevent boredom for the horse this stall should be carefully located. Placement of this stall could be close to an area of high activity such as next to a wash stall or tack-up area, a view to an indoor or outside arena where horses are exercised, or at the end of a barn where the open entry way offers some form of entertainment with a view of the house, backyard pool, driveway, or road.

The Lanai Option

Provision of a Dutch door with access to a covered area with limited space outside the barn is a great way to limit the horse’s access to turnout while still providing freedom of movement and a change of view.

Often colloquially referred to as a lanai due to its similarity in features to the popular patio/veranda/porch seen in hot regions such as Florida and Hawaii, it usually features a roof for shelter from the sun and rain and may be screened in some way from pesky bugs if situated in an area where excessive heat and flying insects are a problem.

If the barn design includes and overhang, a simple option is to extend the overhang from 4’ or 6’ to 12’ adjacent to one or two stalls. This will allow enough area to be converted with gates or temporary fencing to make an outside/inside lanai area if a Dutch door egress is provided.

This area could include rubber mats placed over concrete or it could be left as a stonedust surface to allow the later addition of rubber mats or a similar comfort flooring if needed.

Hang Tight

It is possible that part of the horses’ rehabilitation and recovery will require suspending an IV fluid hanger to administrate medicines and supporting fluids. This is a system of pulleys, cleats and ropes that can be mounted as a hardware kit to a wood post on a barn.

All barns should be built with substantial framing members and wood pillars are ideal for mounting these IV fluid kits. Placement in a stall of an additional wood pillar in the center of a front or back wall can be useful for the purpose and if a single stall is converted to a double stall the center pillar may suffice for use. When installed IV fluid kits should be checked to ensure there is no likelihood of a tube, rope or pulley becoming caught up on a pillar or other obstacle.

It is also possible that a sling to keep the horse from putting too much weight on a joint, soft tissue area or hoof will be needed. Substantial additional weight-bearing lumber may need to be installed to accommodate the sling depending upon its design.

While there is no necessity to build a full recovery stall with padded walls and a full veterinary clinic set up, the inclusion of a few simple factors in horse barn design can make the stalls flexible to accommodate temporary medical needs.

Aside from veterinary aids the confined horse will also appreciate toys and other products to minimize boredom. Hanging toys, special feed dispensers and other distractions can go a long way to keeping your stalled equine content.

Hand Walking Areas

The requirement for regular hand walking and stretching exercises should be expected to be part of the rehabilitation protocol after any period of confinement for the horse.

A center aisle barn with a wide aisleway offers the perfect all-weather space to take those first baby steps toward recovery. The exterior doors can be shut for security or left open to facilitate extra room to circle the horse and turn around.

If rubber pavers or rubber mats are utilized to cushion the center aisle and protect the horse from slipping and sliding on a smooth concrete surface, or is s stonedust base is installed and compacted, the center aisle can provide a safe area for hand walking the horse during rehabilitation. Remember to avoid tight turns if the horse has suffered a leg, shoulder, or hip injury.

Power Up

Routine veterinary care and the elevated level of care needed in the case of a stalled horse during recovery may be aided by having additional power sources for equipment, and video monitoring with Wi-Fi access in the barn.

Electrical outlets conveniently located to the stall will minimize the use of electrical extensions and the risk associated with their use, as well as negate the need for the horse to be moved more than necessary for evaluation during recovery.

Monitoring systems ease the mind of the caregiver and can give 24/7 views of the activity of the horse so any necessary adjustments to set up or practices can be made and provide a valuable insight into the horse’s mental condition.

Chew On This

Installation of metal edges for protection from chewing of wood by the horse on all exposed right-angled surfaces and tops of Dutch doors is essential to protect the building from the mischief horses can dish out when stabled.

During periods of extended confinement, the equine occupant is highly likely to ‘rail’ on walls with his teeth, kick out or rear in frustration and chew on the ledges of windows and edges of posts.

Smart barn design with properly constructed kick walls, grilled front walls and protected surfaces can greatly lessen the chances of damage to either the horse or the structure.

Seal The Deal

Before you add a horse to the stable in a new barn always protect interior wood surfaces from both chewing and staining by the application of a sealant. Not only will this action keep the walls protected from unsightly stains and marks, but this will also make cleaning the stall easier to accomplish.

Keeping a stalled horse’s environment clean and healthy requires a lot of effort and any labor-saving practice is a good idea to install at the outset.

Fresh Air Everywhere

Fresh air is essential for good health of the horse and should be especially considered in the design of a horse barn. Passive ventilation such as wire covered soffits (this protects from birds setting up house in the barn), gable vents, ridge vents, cupolas, windows, and Dutch doors can all aid in airflow within the structure.

In hot climates supplementing the movement of air by mechanical means such as the installation of commercial grade fans either on the ceiling, floors, or walls, (commercial grade offer sealed motors that are protected from dust and debris for fire safety), may be required for additional help in moving air through the barn and keeping the horses comfortable.

A sick horse on stall rest will need even more help managing his body temperature than a healthy individual, and provision of both safe heating and cooling options should be incorporated into the barn plans if possible.

Resources

Barn design expertise can greatly aid in ensuring that whatever house housing you choose, it has the adaptability to address future needs for medical care.

Choose a construction company that offers a variety of barn styles and will work with you on the budget as well as the aesthetics and the use of modern labor-saving materials that can help defray the need for future repairs and repainting such as siding and roofing options. Don’t be shy to ask for advice from the staff at the company on how to optimize your new barn design to accommodate horses that become ill or require special needs. Specialist horse barn companies are usually horse folks themselves, and have a wealth of experience in the design of horse housing that they are happy to share to help you make the best decision for your individual needs.

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There are many awesome resources that address daily practices for caring for a horse on stall confinement. A suggested place to start is M Libraries, that offers supplemental notes on large animal surgery.

Keeping Chickens Chill in Hot Weather

As temperatures reach 85-90° F and high humidity compounds the ambient heat chickens are vulnerable to heat stress. Just as dogs pant when they are hot as they are unable to sweat to cool down through their coats and skin, chickens cannot sweat through their skin and feathered coated bodies and will pant when overheated. Learn how to keep chickens cool in summer and extreme heat below. 

Both species rely on their feet to dissipate heat and both species will move their tongues back and forth to try and cool down. Chickens will flap their combs and take their wings away from their bodies to mitigate the adverse effects of heat. Lost egg production, lethargy and inappetence are all signs of heat stress.

Chickens dissipate heat through their blood flow through the comb, wattles and limbs. If the chicken’s average temperature exceeds 103° F then this method of cooling the bird will be insufficient to keep it cool. A pale colored, panting bird is one that needs immediate attention.

Also, just as in canines the heavier the breed the more likely it is to suffer from heat stress. Death can result from severe dehydration and overheating, and appropriate measures should be taken to minimize the health risks to the flock during periods of extreme heat.

Choose Your Chicken Breed Wisely

Chickens that are used to constant hot temperatures and humidity generally fare better than those subject to random heat waves where their metabolism and habits have not become used to the climate.

Certain breeds are more heat tolerant than others. The Australian Orpington, the Rhode Island Red and the Campine are all examples of breeds that are good choices for regions where temperatures regularly exceed the 85° F mark.

Ventilation and Shade

Passive ventilation is essential in the coop. When aided by gable vents, securely protected open windows and doors, the airflow in the coop can be significantly improved. Doors should of course be secured closed at night.

Mechanical ventilation by a solar powered or hardwired fan can aid the airflow on very hot days. Be certain to place any wires in conduit and secure them in areas out of the reach of pecking birds. It is also prudent to utilize a commercial grade versus residential grade fan, as commercial fans have sealed motors that mitigate the risk of fire caused by dirt, dust and debris entering the motor of the unit.

Misters and sprinklers can also be used in the run or yard to offer cooling for the birds. Even if the chickens don’t get wet the cooled air will improve their oxygenation.

Shade from a tree or large bush can be helpful but the best practice is to have a secure covered run that allows the chickens the choice to seek their preferred spot to sit out of the sun.

In very hot climates an open-air coop is a good option, but it should be roofed and secure from predators.

Don’t Overcrowd

Chickens generally require 3-foot square coop space per chicken but in hotter climates allowance of a larger space 4–6-foot square is optimal to maximize airflow and avoid overcrowding that may result in heat stress.

Think of the difference in airflow you feel standing in a crowded subway car versus sitting on an open-air terrace with just a few companions.

No Deep Litter – Take the Duvet Off

In cold months the deep litter bedding method emanates heat that is valuable in keeping the flock warm. For obvious reasons this is not desirable during sweltering summer weather. A 2- or 3-inch litter of pine shavings offers a cooler coop environment.

Akin to us removing the duvet and switching in a flat cotton sheet on a bed, a clean fresh bed with minimum cover will help keep the inhabitant cool.

Get A Pool And/Or Dust Bath

Taking a dip in a kid’s paddle pool filled with cool water is welcomed by a hot chicken. Fun to watch but also an invaluable aid in cooling down the chicken’s body temperature, this is a great way to play.

There is some controversary about whether a chicken likes water baths, but if the chicken will use one this method of cooling it down can be effective.

Tossing the chicken in a chlorinated or salt swimming pool is not a good idea!

Dust baths can also be helpful in helping to keep chickens cool. The added advantage is that the right mix dust bath can also help eradicate or mitigate fleas and mites.

Dining Delights – Cuisine Matters

Freezing the chicken feed for one hour or so before feeding can help cool the chicken but also improves the desirability of the feed. This is especially useful for chickens that are lethargic and off their food.

Treat your chickens to frozen watermelon, berries and other high moisture content fruit and veggies. Be sure not to over supplement with these frozen treats as they are no substitute for the regular feed. Less than 12% of the chicken’s regular diet should be in the form of treats.

Cold Water

Cold fresh water is essential year-round but in summer it is ever more important. Keep all water in the shade and as cold as possible and offer multiple sources. A gallon of water per 7 chickens is the norm and providing many sources can encourage drinking.

Photo credit: diyncrafts.com

Ice can be put in the water to keep it cool.

Electrolytes can be added to the water if the chickens show signs of lethargy, but this should be an alternate source not the only source of water. As with horses and other animals it is essential that they have a free choice between the treated water and regular fresh water so their bodies do not become overloaded with minerals and salts.

Remember to clean the water containers periodically with a 10% bleach/90% water cleaning solution and rinse thoroughly.

Treatment For an Overheated Chicken

Effective and immediate reduction of the chicken’s body temperature is best affected by submerging it up to its neck in cool water.

Provision of ice-cold water with electrolytes, placement in an air-conditioned space in an animal carrier, crate or other confinement option or in a cool garage can make a big difference to a heat stressed bird.

Select the PERFECT Coop for Your Flock
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Good Reasons to Add a Water Feature to Your Outdoor Living Project

As you map out your fabulous new backyard project don’t forget to consider the addition of a outdoor living water feature. The gazebo, pergola or pavilion structure set amid a bounty of flower or vegetable beds, winding paths, green lawns, or succulent gardens will provide shade and shelter from the hot sun, but the inclusion of a water feature can elevate the enjoyment of the space to new heights.

In certain cultures, water is a central theme in any garden design and is given pride of place. For example, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean gardens consider water a primary focal point as it represents wisdom and renewal. While gardens in these regions were created as places for reflection, rituals and prayer, Zen gardens are dry spaces with no water. A ‘Short History of Water Gardening” written by Kit Knotts, explores the use of water for irrigation and the development of aquatic plants we have come to love such as the Lotus and the Water Lilly. The latter so ‘impressed’ the impressionist painter Claude Monet that he painted over 250 paintings of the plant at his home in Giverny, France.

A backyard water feature can be a small fountain, a rill or a large pond. A trickle or a ripple, a still reflective surface, or a waterfall of sound. Whatever your preference, the benefits of including moving water in a garden are many.

  • Improves air quality
  • Gentle sounds of running water are soothing and add a relaxing ambience and tranquility
  • The sound of moving water can mitigate neighborhood noise pollution
  • Softens hard landscape lines in the garden
  • Adds a textural element to the space
  • Can be used to water plants
  • Provide an eco-system for wildlife
  • Increases property value
  • Perfect garden for small urban spaces

A Variety of Options

The simplest outdoor living water feature to include in a garden is a bird bath. It requires no pumps or involved installation or excavation and will encourage wildlife to visit the garden. Water walls and rain curtains, pondless and standard waterfalls, scuppers, sconces, and water jets are all options to consider depending on your preference and budget.

The garden pond is a popular choice of water feature as its installation is relatively simple, but the amount of maintenance required should also be a consideration in the selection of a water feature. Running water will generally require less maintenance than still water to keep clean, but each feature will require some form of attention and care.

Fishing For Fish

Much pleasure can be derived from creating a fishpond and filling it with your favorite fish. Goldfish, Koi, Guppies, Minnows, Pond Loach and Molly Fish to name a few. But you will need to protect the fish from predators who see the pond as their perfect restaurant with plenty on the table.

Netting, fish line across the pond (doesn’t impair the view as much as netting), the inclusion in pond design of tunnels and caves and floating plants where the fish can hide, decoys, and lights and water sprayers hooked up to motion sensors, are all good methods to protect your fish habitat from unwanted intrusion from predators.

It’s not just birds like Blue Herons that will take advantage of the handy food source in the pond, raccoons and other night visitors including feral cats can also be a hazard to the well-being of your fish. Motion sensor products that emit light, sprays of water and noise are the best deterrent for these visitors.

The Natural Beauty of Aquatic Plant Life

Avid gardeners love the added dimension of water features as it broadens their opportunity to explore new plant life and learn new growing and nurturing habits for a myriad of flora.

Elegant Lotus plants and floating Water Lilies and Water Poppies add sophistication to the garden while other species such as Rodgers Flower and Water Smartweed are perfect for masking muddy spots and can be prevented from rooting and spreading by placing them in pots around the edge of the pond to curtail their inherent ability to quickly root and cover the floor of a pond.

Horsetail and Purple Pitcher offer height and the former is a medicinal plant that can be harvested as can Creeping Jenny.

Some plants actively help mitigate algae bloom in the pond. The purple Water Hyacinth being the most used pond plant of all for this reason. Others to consider are Water Lettuce and Pickerel. Certain plants actively help oxygenate the pool such as Water Iris and Dwarf Giant Papyrus offers the help of a natural water filter.

Mosquitoes can be a problem around any standing water and the provision of a water surface plant cover can help defray their ability to lay eggs on the water surface. Mosquito fern is a good choice for this purpose.

Variety – The Spice of Life

Whatever backyard water feature you choose to add to your garden design, the enjoyment of the outdoor space will be enhanced as water provides occupants with additional input to their senses of sight, sound, smell and even touch.

Picture yourself dining by a cooling mist of a waterfall ensconced in your screened gazebo or lounging under the dappled light of the pergola reading a good book listening to the gentle babble of a rill. We all need time to sit and be mindful, to reflect and to relax and unwind from the stress of our busy lives. Nature brings us gifts galore to help us. Why not meditate on adding a water feature to your outdoor design and enjoy its benefits.

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