I listened to an inspiring podcast by water-feature designer Bob Dews in North Carolina. These are the notes I made (with a few editorial comments):
Water addresses all the senses:
—Visually stimulating: our eyes catch movement, such as when we see a bird fly by, we turn to look at it. Cascades and waterfalls particularly highlight the beauty of the water itself, rather than the reflection that you get with ponds. Lighting the moving water can give you the same benefits at night.
To appreciate the visual aspects of the water feature, be sure to locate it where it will be frequently seen. Think of your habits regarding your outdoor spaces: if you seldom go out into the garden (for whatever reasons) be sure to situate your feature where it can be seen from indoors. If you like to sit in various areas of your garden, of course you’ll want the water feature to be somewhat central. Maybe you’ll enjoy seeing it from one area, but only hearing it from another…
—Acoustics: Water tunes to different pitches, which mean different things to us depending on the circumstances. Tones depend on the surface the water hits. It’s also more “present” than the other senses–we’ll hear the sound of the water when we can’t necessarily see it. Therefore a more important sensation than visual. If the acoustics aren’t right, could be annoying–like traffic. Water trickling down a “water wall” or rain chain will yield a soft gentle sound; water striking a flat surface from height, even little height, will result in a loud gushing sound. Your choice!
This waterfall isn’t fully planted you. Stay “tuned” for updated view.
I’d find this a little too loud. It’s a very small front yard (which you can’t tell from my inelegant video), and to fully appreciate the waterfall, I’d like to see a patio built near-by. I’d prefer the falls–in fact the whole structure–to be shorter, leading to softer sound.
—Touch: interactive; we touch water, water touches us–example, mist or spray rising up to our face. Feeling of water is soothing. When we touch water that is moving, there is more sensation than with still water, and of course, is complimented with visual.
—Smell: hopefully not too much. Biological filters should prevent pathological bacteria that result in smelly water.
Wildlife seeks out water; having water in the garden creates a domino effect of variety. Allow pets to experience the water as well.