Water & Fire: How to Incorporate these Two Elements in Your Landscape Design

 In Garden Tips

There’s no denying the beautiful lushness that fruit trees and flowers bring to a garden but don’t underestimate the beauty of the elements. A water feature or fire pit/fireplace can elevate the functionality, beauty, and appearance of a home landscape.

Today, I’ll take a look at how you can add water features or fireplaces to your gardens for maximum appeal. How can you do so without compromising the look of your garden, or wasting your hard-earned cash? Let’s find out.

The Effects of Water & Fire Features in a Contemporary Landscape Design 

In a quest to add some flair and sparkle to their gardens, many homeowners completely bypass the idea of having a water or fire feature. It’s one thing if it doesn’t fit the budget or layout of a garden but it’s another to completely ignore this as an option. I’ve seen a number of backyard landscapes go from decent to dazzling after a water or fire feature (or both) were added. 

What can these features do to enhance your backyard?


Water and fire features are ideal for establishing a mood or atmosphere. The characteristics of water and fire make them multisensory additions to any garden. Just think about the sound of water trickling or watching water ripple as drops fall within a fountain. Think about the flicker of flames in a fire and the crackling pop it makes in the silence. 

These elements are soothing to our senses and minds.


What I mean here by “aesthetic” is visual appeal. Simply put, a water feature or firepit is pretty to look at. They add a nice touch to a garden by creating interesting focal points and visual contrasts to an otherwise simplistic landscape. 

Case in point, a water feature or firepit stands out amongst a garden that’s dominated by foliage. Also, when one of these features has intricate or artful designs to go with it, it makes the feature even more noticeable. 


There’s been some debate about this but the overall consensus is that water and fire features can increase property value. 

One survey concluded that a 10-foot in diameter natural gas fire pit made of stone can yield an average of 67% ROI (for what you spend). 

The figure breaks down like this: if you spend $6,000 on the firepit, you’ll get $4,000 back. 

Not bad if you ask me.

Flow & Flair

Installing a water or fire feature isn’t the most challenging part, to be honest. What usually gets the wheels spinning is knowing what to go with and how to fit it in the backyard without it looking like a clunky add-on or a last-minute addition.

So much feels at stake. 

You want your water or fire feature to fit in and enhance the look of your landscape design but you also want it to catch your visitors’ eyes.

You want it to enhance the space, not limit it.

There are lots of variables. But one of the easiest ways to make a smart choice is to look at examples of water and fire features for inspiration.  

Examples of Water Features in Landscape Design


  • Natural Ponds
  • Waterfalls
  • Standard Waterfall
  • Pondless Waterfall
  • Rain Curtain
  • Scuppers
  • Sconces
  • Laminar Jets
  • Bubblers
  • Fountains
  • Streams
  • Bird Baths
  • Swimming Pool

Examples of Fire Features in Contemporary Landscape Design 

  • Pits
  • Bowls
  • Columns
  • Tables
  • Chimineas
  • Outdoor Fireplaces
  • Patio Heaters
  • Campfire

How to Decide Which Features Work Best for Your Garden

I’ve compiled a few factors that go into the purchasing of a water or fire feature: functionality, style, and affordability


First, if you’re going to pick a particular water or fire feature, ask yourself (and please, your significant other) whether it’s worth the investment.

Plus, if you’re going to install a pool or a waterfall, consider some basic elements such as available space and lay of the property. If you’re going to put a firepit, consider how you can ensure fire safety especially if you have young children. 

Spare yourself the trouble and do some practical thinking first. Or, you can always call a landscape architect like myself to help you design wisely. 


Make it personal. Remember, style and design are very much subjective, so no one can tell you what to install in your yard or lawn. 

But there are some guiding principles you may follow.

For example, become familiar with architectural house styles. Some of you may live in homes that are considered to be a Greek Revival style while others are much more mid-century or contemporary. The style your home was constructed largely sets the tone and theme for all other additions on your property, including water and fire features. 

Of course, if you’re not fully confident in your eye for design, you can always get feedback from a friend, relative. Or a landscape architect like me.  


Here are my words of wisdom when it comes to budget. Don’t overextend yourself. Your finances count. 

There will always be a functional and stylish feature that will fit your home. 

As a rule design for the long-range and ultimate comfort and pleasure. Most of my clients use a phased approach to implementing their master plans. Once you have an overall road map (design) it’s much easier to make the journey. Consider manageable distances. 

Fire & Water in a Contemporary Landscape Design

Contemporary landscape design involves many more elements than those that are natural and both water and fire can enhance the look, feel and value of your property. 

Whether it’s a waterfall or an outdoor fireplace, either type of feature can raise your appreciation and enjoyment of your life at home. All it takes is a little strategy and thought to ensure you pick the feature that works best for you and your landscape.

Are you looking to install a water or fire feature at your home? Get in touch with me so that I can help you get started. 

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