Water Feature Creates Focal Point in Backyard Oasis

Article by Michelle Heslop. Photos by Jody Beck. Video by Merle Kroeker.

On a quiet tree-lined street that feels like a country lane, this newly renovated rancher in Broadmead sits back from the road on a verdant private lot. With the intent to downsize and simplify their lifestyle, the couple purchased a compact two bedroom rancher built in 1986. A little smaller than they had anticipated, the one-level house was perfect for aging in place, but needed some changes. Discovering that they had been a little ambitious in their ability to downsize, the couple decided to renovate, adding a conservatory to serve as a home office. 

Once their interior renovation was complete, the couple was ready to take on the landscape. At the top of their design wish list was a smooth transition to the outdoors, an extension of their livable space that would complement their newly renovated interior. The couple envisioned a tranquil backyard oasis with a new deck for entertaining and a water feature with a small pond as a focal point.


Based on a recommendation from mutual friends, the couple hired Merle and Katie Kroeker of Pacific Ridge Landscapes to help bring their backyard design goals to fruition. “We saw the potential of our yard, but we didn’t have the expertise to articulate or create what we could envision. With incredibly clear communication, Merle and Katie both have an easy going manner and razor-sharp knowledge. During the initial consult, as they answered all our questions, we learned very quickly that they were the landscape designers we had been looking for.”

Thirty years since the original landscaping was done, the yard was overgrown with towering trees and shrubs that crowded the landscape. “The deer were a problem in the garden, the irrigation system was ancient and the ivy had taken up residence along with may other unwanted species of plant life,” says the owner.


Kroeker recycled some of the rock from the previous garden and used multiple boulders from the reno’s excavation for the stream and pond. For the hardscaping, Kroeker worked with the existing wooden deck and small concrete pad and designed a meandering compacted gravel pathway through the garden.


Passionate about water features in landscape design, Kroeker explains that “there are no formulas, no boundaries — no two water features are alike.” After studying under one of North Americas leading water feature gurus, Rick Bartel, Kroeker feels most creative when designing water features for a project.

For Kroeker, water features can be broken into two types: natural or modern. Like this project, when incorporating a natural water feature into an organic design, Kroeker takes his cues from the natural surroundings. According to Kroeker, creating a backyard water feature is the key to relaxation, they call you to stop, rest and take in your natural environment.

“For the backyard water area, we chose varying heights of ornamental grasses, salvia, agapanthus, and thyme alongside the gravel pathway. A colour palette of purple, green and white add bursts of colour and complement the soft, organic feel of the stream and pond.”


Kroeker simplified the design for the front and side yards and focused on removing overgrown shrubs and ivy to expose the beautiful existing rock outcrops. “We made the exposed rocks the feature and created large expanses of lawn around them to provide a calming effect. Negative space in landscape design can be a very powerful design element,” adds Kroeker.