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Have you ever been to a large public water garden?  You know, the ones that stretch out for what seems like miles, with a lot of pathways, multiple bridges, and countless fountains and waterfalls?  And of course, a large quantity of beautiful Koi fish.  These gardens are fantastic, but they’re also beyond the reach of us mere mortals to have in our own yards.  Or, are they?

Of course, the most limiting factor for a large water garden is how much room you have to build one.  But even if your hard is of modest size, a big-feeling water garden isn’t necessarily out of consideration.  The key to a big water garden in a reasonable space and budget is to make it “feel” big.

It is possible to have a grand water garden of our own, just perhaps scaled back a bit.  The most important factor in making your smaller garden feel bigger is immersion.  No, I don’t mean going for a swim.  I’m talking about a garden which makes you unaware of everything else by visual and audio immersion.

To be visual immersive, the garden should be tall.  There are many ways to be tall.  If you’ve got room in your yard, you can make the border areas of the garden a few feet higher than the inner areas where you would walk.  You can add trees around the outside edges as well, to help create a slightly closed-in feeling which still allows open air above.  Particularly, it would be good to place trees in locations that will obscure the view of neighboring houses or other buildings.

Painting the fences a dark, earthy color or even a very dark green will create an immersive feel by taking away the “I’m in a back yard” look of the fence.  Make sure they’re painted with a thick coat, you want it to have a smooth look and feel, further moving away from the usual wood grain appearance of a fenced yard.

Another very important aspect of immersion is a consistent visual theme.  You’ll want to make sure all the water features have a similar style.  The rocks should be of similar or complementary appearance, any walkways should be made from the same style of stones or have the same concrete finish.  If you decide to build a bridge, and you have a deck, or you want more than one bridge, make sure these all have a matching style.  The woodwork of the deck and bridges should be painted in a way that matches or compliments the fence painting.

Tall decorations are another way to improve immersion.  Lamp posts and archways are a great example.

You might even consider obscuring part of your house with smaller trees or bushes, or perhaps incorporating the house itself into the garden.  You could place tall waterfalls or fountains on the side of the house, and could even consider painting the garden-side of your home to match the fence and other woodwork.

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