Tumber & Associates builds a beautiful pond for a homeowner in rural Ontario.

Choice Logo120 Steep ravines and tired, abandoned land surrounded the Prairie-style house when its transformation began. After re-sculpting the topography to do its bidding, Tumber and Associates restored and replanted the landscape using native species and traditional built elements to create an environment that the owners say has changed their lives.

The only site available for the client's pond was on the 45-degree slope of a ravine with porous, sandy soils. Tumber constructed the pond using fill material from the site and then lined it with a one-piece, 80-by-150-foot plastic liner to keep the water from escaping through the sandy soil. The 7,000-pound liner arrived from Houston, was unfolded and installed with help from an excavator and then secured in place with boulders and a layer of sand. A layer of beach pebbles provides a home for colonies of healthy pond bacteria.

Mmm 1107 AqTo accommodate the extensive and varied wildlife of the region, Tumber fashioned steps out of boulders to serve as a safe exit for deer, coyotes and any other creatures that might use the pond. A closed-system, recirculating waterfall skims and aerates the pond and an underground sieve near the bottom of the ravine supports and feeds a submersible pump. Operating on a timer, the pump introduces water into the bottom of the pond for healthy aeration and to keep water levels consistent. A dry riverbed on the downhill side of the pond manages seasonal overflow.

Native species of trees, shrubs and grasses naturalize the pond, but plantings become more domestic along the path that leads toward the home.

Rooms For The View

At the top of the ravine, the home is sited to capture magnificent sunsets. A front terrace was added to the existing veranda and loft to take advantage of the western exposure and the view of rolling meadows and distant hills. A series of cascading waterfalls links the rear walkout of the house to lower terraces and a gazebo on the upper level. The gazebo, a substantial, screened-in structure that seems to hover over the lily pond, is approached via a colonnade that passes over a stream.

Due to the tremendous elevation change, the colonnade and gazebo were built 13 feet in the air. Tumber used concrete piers and engineered fill retained with hundreds of tons of local weathered limestone to create the new grade.

As the water cascades away from the gazebo, it travels past natural stone walkways and multilevel flagstone terraces, which transform the hillside into a series of outdoor rooms. A fire pit with sitting rocks, a koi pond and a bistro table for two are just some of the elements visitors will find as they make their way down the path.

Despite its many elements and elevation changes, the project came together with thoughtful choices of materials and skillful execution of the plan. The clients couldn't be happier. "You've changed our lives," they told Tumber. "We are always outside now, every moment we have. I was never like this before. Now it's hard to leave and go to work."

What the judges said:

Nonemaker"I like this unusual treatment - with the water running right up the structure. You can really enjoy the water with it so close. It's peaceful, calming and elegant. I also like the dark and natural-looking liner used in the reflecting pool."
ROBERT NONEMAKER, principal of Outerspaces, specializing in landscape and watershape design and construction, and Robert Nonemaker Exterior Designs, a watershape consultancy.

White"The water gives a sense of unity to the landscape since it comes right up to the gazebo. It's interactive with the dwelling. I also like that it's not over or under planted."
LEE ANNE WHITE, photographer, landscape designer and writer; former editor-in-chief of Fine Gardening Magazine and author of numerous books including Taunton's Pool Idea Book.

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