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Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: September 2014
Group Mid-Level
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Flow your own way with custom water features.

“People are naturally attracted to the sound of water. It has a calming, cooling aspect to it. It’s very healing. We want to be around water, we want to hear water.”

Mike and Joyce Sweeny’s pondless waterfall

Mike and Joyce Sweeny’s pondless waterfall at their home in Queen Creek has a total of 55 feet of flowing water in a split stream. Ralph Biezad designed the feature and the entire landscape of their front yard. Price varies by project.
PONDSCAPES AZ 480-987-7781, pondscapesaz.com

Ralph Biezad would know. The former Marine Corps machine gunner now owns Pondscapes AZ, a full-service landscape installation company that specializes in water features. His favorite features are pondless waterfalls, which have no standing water but instead recycle the same water when they’re turned on; when they’re off, the water goes into an underground basin. “You enjoy all the aspects of having water and you’re not wasting water,” Biezad says.

Being water-wise is key in Arizona, echoes landscape architect and contractor Chad Robert, owner of Exteriors by Chad Robert. “We live in the desert. Most of the water features I do, with the exception of swimming pools, are very low-water-use,” Robert says. “We have to be respectful of where we live. The more turbulent the water is, the more we lose, the more it evaporates, the more we waste.”

In fact, bigger and splashier is not necessarily better when it comes to water features, says Michael Rockwell, landscape architect and owner of Azul Verde. “They provide the visual, the aesthetic, but they also provide the sound,” Rockwell says. “Some can be kind of irritating to listen to. Having a softer sound seems to be soothing to more folks.”

Whether you’re considering a small waterfall or a gargantuan water slide, it’s best to consult a professional. “If you have an idea about incorporating a water feature into your backyard, let an expert designer/builder make sure everything is safe and works properly for the whole family,” says Linnzy Foster, marketing manager at Presidential Pools & Spas. Water features should be a collaboration between the homeowners and the contractor.

“I don’t look at it like a job, it’s more like a commission,” Rockwell says. “Trust the person you’re working with, or else the project’s not going to turn out well.”

Azul VerdeAzul Verde
7020 E. Bella Vista Dr., Cave Creek
480-595-0611, azulverde.com
Michael Rockwell designed and built this entire landscape from the ground up, with the house and stately saguaro in mind. “Think about the big picture as opposed to one element,” he advises. “The water feature in this particular design is integral to the design. It’s part of the whole, it’s not just a water feature for the sake of a water feature. It’s an architectural element that brings the pool, the landscape, and the architecture of the house together.” Price varies by project.

exteriors by chad, waterfall



Exteriors by Chad Robert
537 E. Willetta St., Phoenix
602-252-6775, exteriors-cr.com
A client’s collection of broken glass was the inspiration and the building material for this Robert-designed piece, which was carved in Mexico out of Cantera stone to match the stone inside the client’s home. Robert combined their ideas into a cohesive design, which he covered with a piece of plexiglass and then back-lit. “At nighttime it looks like a stained-glass window,” Robert says. “Some pieces are opaque and some are transparent. It’s a neat effect.” Price varies by project.

presidential pools, swimming pools


Presidential Pools & Spas
Locations: Gilbert, Surprise, Scottsdale, Tucson
Linnzy Foster sees all kinds of trends at Valley homes, from popular sheer descents and water wok pots to extravagant waterfalls cascading from rooftops. This client kicked it up a notch with a waterpark-style slide towering over the resort-style pool below. “The owner wanted something fun for their kids and decided to add the slide to the master bedroom deck,” Foster says. “You can walk right out of their room and take the plunge into the refreshing pool instead of going for your morning coffee to wake up.” Price varies by project.