Fountains – Home and Garden Decor to Enhance Any Space

Fountains are no doubt one of the best additions to any garden. The sound of rushing water perfectly complements the green foliage, and the intricate stone designs make it a great focal point. But garden fountains are more than a lawn ornament–they also represent a source of sustenance for your plants. Whether you have a small patio or a sprawling backyard, a well-placed fountain can certainly liven up your outdoor space.

HISTORY OF FOUNTAINS

As with most ornamental pieces, fountains started out strictly functional. They were first used in the Middle East, where the weather was hot and the water provided relief from the heat. Most of them were simple, surrounded by trees and built in royal courtyards. The Romans also experimented with outdoor water features, building their gardens adjacent to public baths. They were mostly used for bathing rituals, which were a vital part of their culture.
Ornamental garden fountains first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia, but it was only in the late medieval period that they were used in domestic settings. Garden fountains were used in Spain before the 15th century and in Italy some years later. It took yet another century for home fountains to reach American shores, and by the early 20th century fountains were a common fixture not only in home gardens but also in offices, hotel lobbies and shopping malls.

FOUNTAIN DESIGNS

Fountains come in several styles, but only a few are suitable for the typical home garden. Some of the most common are wall, pond, and tabletop.
Wall fountains have a basin-like base and a relatively low spray. They are so called because they are attached to a water source coming from the wall. As such, they don’t take up a lot of space and are perfect for small home gardens.
If you have a larger space, you may want to consider a pond fountain. These can be literally as big as a pond, but there are smaller versions available for garden and even indoor use. Pond fountains are usually wired and programmed with lighting and spray patterns.
Some gardens are simply too small to accommodate water features. If this is your case, you can go for a smaller tabletop fountain. As their name suggests, tabletop fountains are placed on top of tables, usually as centerpieces. They are usually electrically powered and fairly simple to set up.

MATERIALS

Concrete and ceramic are considered the best materials for garden fountains. You can choose from all sorts of shapes, from simple rectangular blocks to intricate stone sculptures. Many are given a sandstone or soapstone finish, which gives them a more interesting texture. Marble is also very attractive, but it’s a lot more expensive and is not practical for medium to large fountains.
Wood, copper and porcelain make great tabletop fountains. Needless to say, they won’t hold up well in full size, but a well-made (and well-placed) miniature would have just the same effect. To add interest, try adding interesting lights or bonsai features.
If it’s just the look you’re after, try fiberglass. Fiberglass fountains have become more popular in recent years because of their weather resistance and flexibility in design. They can be made to look like wood, stone, marble and glass–while maintaining constant structural integrity. So if you’ve always wanted a wood fixture but don’t want the maintenance fuss, fiberglass fountains are the perfect solution.

BUYING TIPS

One of your top considerations should be water and power consumption. There have been questions on whether ornamental fountains should be restricted, as they are an unnecessary waste of water supply. Even those that are labeled environmentally friendly will still use up water and electricity. Choosing a simple watering system will not only minimize this, but also cut down on your operating costs. Besides, it’s often the sculpture and workmanship–not the water–that grabs people’s attention.

Also consider installation and maintenance costs. Installation shouldn’t be a problem with most store-bought fountains, but keeping them running is another story. Be sure to clean your fountain routinely, and pat attention to the pump intake area to keep it free of debris.
You can buy fountains ready for installation at most garden supply stores. In most cases, all you’ll need is an extension cord and enough space for the fountain and water source. But if you want something that truly suits your personality, consider having it custom-made. Look for a contractor that specializes in outdoor and water features, and have at least a rough design in mind during your consultation.

Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Software

The magazine staff and editors of Better Homes and Gardens have come with a design solution for the intrepid homeowner wanting to realize his/her dream house. The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 is the latest edition of that effort that started years back and has become popular among American novice designers and even professional architects and home builders.

Getting to see your dream house with uncanny 3D realism on your PC has never been as easy with a software application tool that can make just about anyone a home designer. You just need to make sure your desktop or laptop PC is powerful enough to render 3D modeling. Not to worry, the software package comes with the recommended PC configuration you need.

Indulge your Imagination

The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 gives reign to your innate design skills the better for you to visualize your dream home on the PC. But even people without artistic talent can to it.

  • Automatic Designing Tools. The Suite has 5,000 competent and easy to use building blocks and tools to simplify getting your design looking real. For starters, you design your lot and backyard terrain with the Automatic Build Terrain and Terrain Perimeter tool that can be aided with a GPS terrain elevation data. Add pools and other landscaping details like fences and driveways from its landscaping library. Generate house roofs, ceiling beams, floor patterns, dormers, stairs, framing and house foundation automatically.
  • Design Templates. There are over 1,500 sample house floor plans as well as a Design Inspiration Gallery with photos by house designs categorized by type that can inspire you with your own unique design ideas. It has a library of home-style templates you can start with or create own customized house designs. There’s also the House Wizard that can automatically generate a house design for you based on information you supply.
  • Design Libraries. There are over 6000 design elements like furniture and electric fixtures, windows and doors, wall paper and floor designs and appliance, just to mention some, in its built-in library that you can just drag and drop on your design work area, or you can design your own. There’s even a Plant Encyclopedia on the side containing 1,500 popular plant species you can learn about that’s suitable in your country as indoor plant ornament in your design.
  • Online Advice. You can get free online design expertise from the Design Planning Center of Better Homes and Gardens as well as download additional design elements from the Home Designer website.
  • 3D Rendering and Virtual Tours. Once you’re done with hour house and interior designing, remodeling, landscaping, and floor planning, go into 3D simulation of light and shadows and a virtual walk-through of your dream house.
  • Project Cost Estimating. Once you’re happy with the look of your new house complete with interiors and landscaping, the Suite will estimate the cost of making your design happen, generating a spreadsheet where you also get material estimates on how much lumber and concrete is needed which creates the basis for the costing.

The Home Improvement Nightmare-Who’s To Blame and How To Avoid It

Unless you live in a remote part of the country with no television, newspaper or other people to talk to, there is a good chance you have heard or read about a home improvement scam or project gone wrong. It seems to be a fact in this country that when you go about doing a home improvement project you will usually encounter countless problems, delays and shoddy work.

The home improvement experience leaves most people stressed and vowing never to do another project again! So it is not surprising to hear that home improvement complaints rank at the top of consumer complaints nationwide year after year. Where does the blame fall for this epidemic of home improvement problems?

I am proud to say I was a home improvement contractor for almost 30 years and I was fortunate enough to win some of the industry’s highest awards. However, it has never ceased to amaze me the poor home improvement decisions that I have seen so many homeowners make. One of the more notable mistakes I would see done over and over again was when a homeowner would blindly hire someone to do a project because the person was a friend or a friend of a friend. To me this reasoning makes no sense.

Friendship and craftsmanship are not related, but for some reason a lot of people believe other wise. Another great example of homeowner apathy is hiring someone to do a project without ever putting anything in writing. Who in their right mind would ever agree to such a disastrous situation? Another very similar blunder would be for a homeowner to blindly accept an estimate on the back of a business card. Usually the only information that has room on the back of a business card is the PRICE.

A major mistake made by many people doing a home improvement project is letting price dictate the decision on who to hire. More problems occur because homeowners pick the lowest price they can find. Why? It is very simple. You can only produce a high quality project at a certain cost. High quality materials, expert labor, appropriate insurances and a reasonable profit to stay in business, cost a certain amount of money.

If someone can do that same project under that amount, what do you think is going to happen when the job is being done? That’s right, the person or company is going to do anything they can to try and make a profit. All of the possibilities that could result from the person you hired, as the low bidder, trying to make a profit, are simply all BAD for the homeowner. In home improvements you get exactly what you pay for.

Let’s not forget to put some of the blame on people looking to work on your home. Over the years I have seen some of my competitors commit heinous business practices. (Surprise!!) I have seen contractors switch materials to lesser quality without customer approval, use unqualified labor, overcharge homeowners for “unforeseen problems”, try to up sell the customer once the project starts, etc.,etc.,etc…….it makes you wonder if you can trust anyone?

So where does the blame fall for all the home improvement complaints year after year? I guess it would be easy to blame the homeowner for not educating themselves on what to do when attempting a project. However the next question would be where does a homeowner get “educated”? Maybe a better question would be when does a homeowner find the time to get “educated”? Education is a great tool if you have the time to do the research. Most people don’t have the time or want to take the time to do hours and hours of research on how to go about getting a home improvement done correctly.

Oops I almost forgot Uncle Sam. A lot of people, including myself, think the government makes it too easy for someone, who has no ethics or skills, to do home improvement work. Why are there still some states that do not have licensing for people doing home improvements? And in the states that do have licensing, why are some of these states issuing licenses without the applicant needing to demonstrate any type of competence in home improvement work? This is like giving out a driver’s license without taking a road test. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

One last situation to blame, one that I would never forgive myself for not mentioning. Home improvement television shows have become the latest fad in television. You can hardly change television channels without a home improvement program popping up. The influx of home improvement shows on television has been phenomenal. However, most of these shows tend to unrealistically glorify the home improvement project as being easy to do with nothing ever going wrong. The last time I looked, nothing ever goes perfect, including home improvement projects. Little, if any information is mentioned on these shows, about how not to be “taken to the cleaners” when doing a project.

One would have to conclude that there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the problems homeowners face when attempting a home improvement project. Unfortunately, most of these problems have been around for many years and if you are expecting a “quick fix”, I think you might be waiting a very long time.

Since I retired from the home improvement industry two (2) years ago I decided it was time to stop worrying about who or what to blame about the constant wave of home improvement complaints (it really seems to be a waste of energy since nothing seems to change) and to put together a way for homeowners to fight back and get the home improvement results that they deserve.

This is why I founded The Home Improvement Success Club of America (TM). The club’s website, which I hope you will visit, can be found at http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com. This is a one-of-a-kind club that guides homeowners on how to get high quality, problem free, home improvement results.

Membership to this club includes The Home Improvement Success System, a complete how-to home improvement system that details all the steps you need to take to make your project a success. The club membership also includes a web forum to ask questions, phone consultations, monthly newsletters, teleseminars, teleclasses and written evaluations of member estimates and contracts.

This club guarantees to short cut the time homeowners need to learn how to complete any home improvement project. You are shown what to do and what to avoid. All the information that you receive from this club you could spend months trying to find, but by joining this club it is at your finger tips 24/7.

To do a home improvement project correctly you need to follow five (5) steps. These steps are:

1. Define your project based on your needs, finances and structural constraints.

2. Determine who can complete the project.

3. Evaluate perspective candidates (including yourself) who you may want to use to complete the project.

4. Prepare a contract that is “thorough” and protects you from poor home improvement situations.

5. Completing certain tasks when the project is being built.

These five steps seem relatively easy to understand but it’s the “particulars” (exactly what to say and do) of each step where most people fall short. Knowing these “particulars” are what makes or breaks your project. Membership to this club will guide you to completing a home improvement project without all the problems and aggravation that most people go through.

If you are interested in protecting your home from the home improvement nightmare, than visit The Home Improvement Success Club of America Website. Joining this club is the next best thing to getting “Home Improvement Insurance”. All Club memberships come with a 30 day money back guarantee.

By Hank Jaworowski, CR
Founder and President of The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)

The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)
http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com
e-mail:[email protected]
631-360-7722