Do you remember that old movie, “Three Coins in the Fountain” and a song by the same name that was written for the movie? The fountain it referred to was the beautiful Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.

If you were to travel to Europe and visit the old cities, you would find many fountains scattered throughout the towns that are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. Even then, the sight and sound of splashing, rippling water was known to have a soothing effect on the psyche.

It’s no wonder that fountains, ponds and water features play an important role in people’s lives. When people come home after a hard day’s work, they want to relax. What better way to do that than to sit on the patio, a cold drink in hand, and listen to the sound of running water, watching it ripple.

Before the economic downturn, a backyard didn’t seem truly complete if it didn’t include a pond or waterfall. Having one’s own private pond filled with aquatic plants, water lilies and fish is like having a personal desert oasis.

A number of new-home buyers were waiting to settle in a bit before they moved on to the next phase of building a pond and putting in the landscape. unfortunately, as the economy spiraled down, those fortunate enough to still have jobs realized that they needed to tighten their belts. Savings were squirreled away, not spent on splashing water.

Any plans for expansion or improvements to property were put on hold as families hunkered down to ride out the “recession.” Having a steady job became more important than ever, and being able to pay the mortgage was the number-one priority. It was a time to be frugal.

vacations, too, became “staycations,” as homeowners stayed put and saved the money that would have been spent on adventures. The appeal of pondless water features grew exponentially as the market slowly improved, but families continued to stay home.

Then, as the economy eased, homeowners started thinking that maybe it was time to invest in property improvements once again. They had jobs; they had squirreled away savings, and were now asking themselves, “Since we’re staying home more, why not make our home more enjoyable?” As homeowners began renovating their backyards, many wanted some kind of water feature. Some felt they couldn’t afford to put in a pond, but maybe just a little water feature. Creative contractors found new ways to entice their clients.

“I tell the client, ‘You’re going to spend a considerable amount of money, but you have to consider it as an investment in improving your property’s value,’” said Dave Jones, owner of The Pond Professional in Woodstock, Georgia. “Adding a water feature makes your property more visually appealing.”

Luckily, there are now more types of water features than ever before, giving contractors greater opportunities to design all sorts of decorative themes, even for clients with modest budgets. “How about a stream bed with a waterfall at the top?” When you think about it, you’re only limited by your imagination.

A simple clay pot, laid on its side on a bed of rocks, with water running over the brim, makes a small but interesting water feature, and, perhaps even more importantly, an inexpensive one. How about some statuary, such as a couple of young girls playing patty-cake, water bubbling underneath their hands?

That’s sure to be a conversation piece. The contractor with imagination can come up with many ideas that would be striking in either a back or a front yard.

But perhaps the biggest, most exciting development of all was the invention of pondless water features. Here’s how it works: A hole is dug at the bottom of a waterfall or feature, and a container is buried in that hole. The container has a small pump inside it that recirculates the water back up to the top. Water that runs down the decorative element is collected in the reservoir basin buried below the water feature, and pumped back up to the top, where it runs down the water feature in a continuous process.

Thanks to this invention, one can now enjoy all the luxury and serenity a water feature brings at a fraction of the price. A homeowner wins big here, acquiring a substantial economic benefit for his property without the high cost of maintaining a pond.

It should be an easy sell. In addition to giving a client a great look for his property, and a soothing soundeffect for his soul, you’re also giving him something with a low upkeep cost. And, by putting in a water feature, he’s being ‘green,’ because pondless water features are both energy-efficient and water-conserving.

“In a water garden, the amount of water required to create an aesthetic waterscape is typically much larger than the water required for a pondless water feature that creates the same type of effect,” said Brandon Dwyer, vice president of Atlantic Water Gardens in Mantua, Ohio.

Those who desire a water feature on their property but don’t want the work and expense of maintaining a pond now have an alternative. Advances in technology mean that a homeowner can now afford the luxury of a waterscape while still maintaining a financially prudent lifestyle.

If there was ever a perfect setup, this is it. You have clients who are requesting water features, but don’t want to spend too much. You have distributors who offer a large variety of water feature products, and you can install them inexpensively, especially when you compare them to the expense of ponds.

For example, if your client had a pond, and that pond had fish and plants in it, it would be considered a live system. It would require a large motor, because it must run constantly. The cost of energy would be considerably more than that of running a small pump. And when that bigger motor burns out, there’s the replacement cost.

Since they are not a live system, and the motor does not have to be run constantly, pondless water features do conserve energy by running the motor only between certain hours, cutting back on electricity costs. Advances in the collaboration between the decorative element of a water feature and its reservoir basin minimize splash and water evaporation, ensuring that very little water is wasted, saving the owner significantly on the water bill.

Homeowners’ choices used to be limited by space and design parameters, not to mention the costs of installation and operation. Years of innovation, however, have grown the field to the point where the options are virtually endless. A water feature to suit any budget isn’t just a possibility, it’s a reality.

Pottery with water coursing through it provides a bubbling sound and a rustic appearance. Ornamental walls with load-bearing, stainless steel scuppers designed for easy installation and longevity cascade greater volumes of water at a more rapid pace. babbling brooks that once demanded ponds to spill into no longer require them; more yards than ever can now be transformed into postcard-worthy nature scenes.

Water-conserving waterfalls are now a viable option as well. “A lot of installers are very creative,” said Jones. “building a waterscape, when it’s done properly, is creating a work of art. I’ve seen some fantastic pondless features that are really second to none.”

The demand for the scenic element of water landscapes has grown; along with it grew the demand for efficiency. fortunately, the operating process that makes pondless water features possible also streamlines their every aspect. Water matrix blocks increase the water capacity of reservoir basins. These blocks have three times the storage capacity of the old alternative, gravel. “Once all of the correct components are in place, there are really no outside elements that will affect energy or water conservation,” said dwyer.

Eliminating a pond also reduces the amount of space needed for installation, allowing those with smaller yards to get in on the fun. Ensuring that reservoir basins can catch all of the splash saves water, too. This further minimizes water bills and makes water treatment easier and more effective.

Another way to cut water costs is to reuse rainwater or graywater. However, Jones believes this technology is still emerging. He plans to experiment with graywater filtration systems for integration into waterscapes.

The popularity of pondless water features began to grow immensely as the economy began to improve. The simple presence of rippling water gives a sense of reassurance to one’s yard, and more importantly, to the owner of that yard.

Their soothing qualities transforms backyards into stress-free zones, at a fraction of what they would have cost just a few years earlier.

Consumers are beginning to realize that the benefits of water features far outweigh the drawbacks. Now that we can give them products that require minimal amounts of water and energy, that aren’t going to break their budgets, their objections are fading, and their imaginations are starting to take over. As the technology continues to improve, adding water features into our clients’ yards should only become easier—to afford, to install, and most of all, to enjoy.