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Water features – contemporary or traditional designs

When Tills Innovations first started over 20 years ago, the majority of water features and fountains were traditional designs, such as ponds, streams and organic stone formations. This was not company or sales driven, but simply the only perceived designs open to the majority of the public. The closest that water was used in any contemporary form in residential designs was swimming pools. Clearly not every water feature falls into one category or the other, but generally the approach tends to be in one form or the other.

With the popular following of RHS flower shows including Chelsea and Hampton Court, driving inspiration and with it change, there started to be interest in moving to contemporary water feature designs as an alternative and now a trend.

Contemporary water features: what to think about

Whilst these shows bring a great wealth of inspiration for clients and professionals operating in the garden and urban environment, it has fuelled a huge number of issues that are attributed to those trying to replicate the spirit of these designs at home or in commercial environments. The two main points that Tills Innovations see overlooked are the life of the water feature, and the other, most importantly, the maintenance that’s required to sustain the look as it was when first installed. Quite simply show gardens only run for a week or two with a dedicated team to manually look after the water feature all day every day. It’s the underestimated difference between a water feature that’s designed to operate for a short period of time to one that’s being cared for in a private garden or operated in a commercial environment that is the seed that grows into a delivered water feature with issues.

Contemporary designs are generally minimalistic, with clean lines and a clean crisp look in one form or another. We explain this to our customers as being akin to a spa or swimming pool look compared to a pond which would be considered a traditional design. When we are approached with contemporary water feature designs there are two things that go through our minds immediately: the first being that most of the time the client is unaware of the complexity of the engineering and installation required, with the other being the associated cost. Explained in more depth below are the considerations and solutions that should be taken to deliver a robust design.

Contemporary water features: the solutions

The solution to delivering a robust water feature design is engineering a solution that addresses the conditioning of the water, through practical systems and water treatment. As well as this, the materials that are used within the design without compromising the aesthetics of the design or the realistic limitations of implementation on the overall site design, and obviously within the cost. There are a number of key parts to the design that will be covered in another article in the future.

Traditional water feature designs: what to think about

Water feature designs don’t always fall neatly into being contemporary or traditional, but Tills Innovations will tend to consider an approach from one direction or another. Generally speaking we look at traditional designs being an organic shape, with natural materials, clear water, but the surfaces possibly going green and therefore more of an aquatic look.

Traditional designs can soften the look of a garden, and complement a contemporary garden design, which otherwise would look very ridged & uniform, offering a different feel and area to relax in.

Traditional designs, such as ponds and streams generally give you licence to reduce the complexity of the water feature and with it the equipment, installation time and therefore cost. You don’t have chemical water treatment but a more modest filtration system with other possible parts depending on the quality of water required. If you’re on a budget but would like to add a water element, a traditional design is your most suitable fit.

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