A Homeowner Shows Off Their Liquid Assets: Backyard Waterfalls That Provide Serenity
In 1998, Ron and Lynne Bergman, owners of a company specializing in large-scale renovations after natural disasters, bought a house in Potomac on two heavily wooded acres. A few years later they installed a pond behind the home, but “I was really after the ‘wow’ factor,” Ron Bergman says, and the pond didn’t cut it.
So, three years ago the Bergmans hired landscape architect Don Nesmith of Land & Water Design in Gainesville, Va., to redevelop the property. Lynne Bergman had spent a lot of time on the family boat as a child with her deep-sea fisherman father, and she wanted the plans to include water features. Eighteen months later, the backyard redo was complete. It now includes a swimming pool, enhanced Japanese koi pond and several waterfalls, as well as an outdoor fireplace, spa, full kitchen and gas fire pit.
The Bergmans wanted the new features to look as if they’d been there forever. The swimming pool was designed to look like a natural pond, with water tumbling over boulders before entering the pool. Over an existing stream, set into the side of a hill and splashing over a bed of natural stone, Nesmith built a bridge to create the illusion that water from that stream flowed into the pool.
Ron Bergman’s favorite water feature is the reconfigured, 5,000-gallon Japanese koi pond. After installing the original pond 10 years ago, he lost 10 to 15 koi to the dreaded great blue herons. “It’s the most expensive sushi I ever fed to a bird,” he says. To eliminate the danger of natural predators, Nesmith raised the sides of the pond and increased its depth to 6 feet. The herons can no longer stand on the side of the pond and easily reach the water, although they still come to look, Lynne Bergman says.
Under the re-engineered deck, Nesmith created a spectacular, all-weather lounging area with one of the project’s most unique features: a multi-tiered waterfall separated from the rest of the yard by a wall topped with translucent glass blocks to draw in natural light. The waterfall, built with earthy, reddish-brown stones and dark slate, has clean, modern lines. It measures 7 feet wide and almost 7 feet at its highest point, and uses water re-circulated from the main pool.
Lynne Bergman spends a lot of time in the tranquil space, just listening to the sound of the water. “The energy flows right through you,” she says. “It completely alters your state of being.”
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By Gabriele McCormick