Gushing with Joy

A few months ago I wrote a blog on the combined use of metal and stonework in the garden and how they make a wonderful duet together. In it, I highlighted a water feature we installed at a client’s home in Dahlonega, complete with stone steps, a cascading stream, and beautiful custom black iron railing. I wanted to tell you more about this waterfall and how it came to be. It took a lot of hard work and customization but in the end the client was gushing with joy.

The client first contacted us because they wanted to install a water feature in their backyard but they needed some guidance as to where it would go and what exactly would fit best in the space. After coming out to the property and seeing what we had to work with, we found the perfect spot for a waterfall.  

Here is the “before” image of the yard. Our vision was to take out the stairs and put in a water feature with natural stone steps and complementary plantings. We knew this would be a great spot for the descending stream for a few reasons: 
  1. The existing stairs had to go anyway. They were already uneven and unsafe for our older clients to be walking down. Why not replace them with something practical yet beautiful?
  2. The hillside provided an opportunity for water to flow downwards. The current landscape was also pretty basic with juniper and one over-pruned holly tree. This gave us a blank canvas to play with and make unique. 
  3. On the left side of the above image you can see the client’s tall and magnificent crape myrtle, a Natchez crape to be exact. In addition to the beauty of its elegant dark bark and small dotted white flowers, we knew the crape myrtle would provide wonderful shade to the stream while enhancing the natural look of the stone.
  4. Finally, the spot was right next to the client’s patio. This would ensure the tranquil sounds of flowing water being heard from the deck along with clear visibility of the scenery. You see, these clients were also animal lovers and were excited by the idea of their water feature drawing in deer, frogs, caterpillars, bees… You name it – they were here for it!
After drawing up a full plan, we first had to remove the stairs, juniper, and holly tree and then excavate the ground. We had to be careful not to disturb the crape myrtle or the existing stonework of the patio.
Next, we started carving out the path and grade of the stream. We also had to decide where the pump would go.
Here is an image of the lining and the pump. We had to decide on where the base of the waterfall would be and how the water would be recycled.
In this picture you can see more of the lining we put in. At some point you just have to go for it and start trying rocks in different places to see how it will all fit together.
To place the bigger rocks, we used excavators with hydraulic thumbs.
It always looks like a total mess right before it starts to look good. I love going back and seeing progress images on projects like these. It shows how far it’s come! 
Have you ever hung a painting on a wall or created a flyer on your computer? It involves a lot of this: a little to the left… no, too far… to the right… down… keep going… too far… up… It’s a lot of squinting your eyes and cocking your head to the right and then again to the left, second guessing yourself and going back to what you had all along. This is why we enlisted the help of our landscape architect, Scott McLendon. His expertise plus the help of our trusty excavator ensured every large rock was in the perfect location.
Scott, the one in the straw hat, also helped us make sure every step was thoroughly safe and stable. No wobbles here!
As we added more flat rocks, it finally started to look like an actual staircase!
This image shows the Natchez crape overlooking the progressing waterfall. It also shows some of our plans for the landscape below.
At the bottom of the hill we created a perennial garden. This blog shows the plan we made for it back in 2020, and this blog talks about the editing and pivoting we had to do when some of the plants didn’t last through the cool, wet growing season of 2021. Sometimes it takes a few times to get it right but that’s the nature of nature! 
Here is the finished water feature! It is a pondless waterfall, meaning there is no pond at the top or bottom of the stream. We chose this type of waterfall because it means there are no fish or aquatic plants to deal with – AKA a lot less maintenance! And who doesn’t love that?
This image shows the final product complete with beautiful custom ironwork from Andrew Crawford, a local metal sculpture artist. The client is loving their waterfall, stone staircase, and perennial garden. We couldn’t be happier with the way it all flowed together. Okay, no more waterfall puns I promise! 

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