A reflecting pool, also called a reflection pool, is a water feature that consists of a shallow pool of water, undisturbed by fountain jets, for a reflective surface. Reflecting pools are often found in gardens, parks, and memorial sites, where they add a serene and contemplative mood to the outdoor space. They can also mirror the surrounding architecture and landscape, creating a stunning visual effect.
History and Origins of Reflecting Pools
The origins of reflecting pools can be traced back to ancient Persian gardens, where water features were a key element of a well-balanced environment.
- The Persians used water channels, fountains, and pools to create a sense of harmony and beauty in their gardens.
- Some of the oldest examples of reflecting pools are found in the Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan, Iran, which was built in the 17th century.
- Reflecting pools became popular in Europe during the Renaissance and Baroque periods when they were used to enhance the grandeur and symmetry of palaces and estates.
- Some notable examples are the Villa Pisani in Venice, Italy, and the Palace of Versailles in France.
- In the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting pools were also used to commemorate historical events and figures, such as the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in the United States.
Design and Features
Reflecting pools can vary in size, shape, and style, depending on the purpose and location of the water feature. They can be as small as a birdbath or as large as a major civic element. They can be rectangular or round, formal or natural, symmetrical or asymmetrical. However, some common design features are:
- A shallow depth of water, usually between 6 to 12 inches (15 to 31 cm), ensures a calm and clear surface.
- A dark bottom, often made of bricks or stones, enhances the reflection and contrast with the water1.
- A smooth rim or edge, often deeper than the central area, to suppress wave formation and prevent overflow.
- A filtration system or pump keeps the water clean and circulating.
- A lighting system or natural light source to illuminate the pool and create different effects at different times of the day.
Benefits and Challenges
Reflecting pools can offer many benefits for both aesthetic and practical reasons. Some of them are:
- They can create a sense of tranquility and relaxation in an outdoor space, by reflecting the sky, clouds, trees, and other natural elements.
- They can add visual interest and drama to an outdoor space, by reflecting the architecture, sculptures, monuments, and other artificial elements.
- They can provide a habitat for aquatic plants and animals, such as water lilies, fish, and birds.
- They can help regulate the temperature and humidity of an outdoor space, by evaporating water and cooling the air.
However, reflecting pools also pose some challenges to maintenance and safety. Some of them are:
- They require regular cleaning and filtering to prevent algae growth, debris accumulation, and water contamination.
- They need to be protected from freezing temperatures, strong winds, and heavy rains that can damage the pool or disturb the water’s surface.
- They need to be monitored for leaks, cracks, or other structural problems that can affect the water level or quality.
- They need to be fenced or guarded to prevent accidents or vandalism involving children, pets, or other visitors.
What are some famous reflecting pools?
Some of the famous reflecting pools are:
- The Miroir d’eau (Water Mirror) on Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, France, is the world’s largest reflecting pool.
- The Mughal garden reflecting pools at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, which are a symbol of love and beauty.
- The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Capitol Reflecting Pool, in Washington, D.C., are associated with American history and democracy.
- The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located at the World Trade Center site in New York City, has two reflecting pools on the location where the Twin Towers stood.
What is the history of reflecting pools?
The history of reflecting pools goes back to ancient Persian gardens, where water features were a key element of a well-balanced environment. The Persians used water channels, fountains, and pools to create a sense of harmony and beauty in their gardens. Some of the oldest examples of reflecting pools are found in the Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan, Iran, which was built in the 17th century.
Reflecting pools became popular in Europe during the Renaissance and Baroque periods when they were used to enhance the grandeur and symmetry of palaces and estates. Some notable examples are the Villa Pisani in Venice, Italy, and the Palace of Versailles in France.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting pools were also used to commemorate historical events and figures, such as the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in the United States. They were also used to create stunning views of monuments, temples, castles, and museums around the world.
How do I build a reflecting pool in my garden?
Building a reflecting pool in your garden can be a rewarding project that can add beauty and tranquility to your outdoor space. There are different ways to build a reflecting pool, depending on your budget, skills, and preferences. Here are some general steps and tips to help you get started:
- Choose a location for your reflecting pool that is level, sunny, and away from trees or plants that can drop leaves or debris into the water. You also want to avoid areas that are prone to flooding or erosion.
- Decide on the size, shape, and style of your reflecting pool. You can make it rectangular or round, formal or natural, symmetrical or asymmetrical. You can also add features like rocks, plants, sculptures, or fountains to enhance the appearance and function of your pool.
- Dig out and level the pond area, making sure the depth is consistent and shallow, usually between 6 to 12 inches (15 to 31 cm). You can use a spirit level or a hose filled with water to check the level of the ground.
- Lay down a pond underlayment, which is a fabric that protects the pond liner from punctures or tears. You can use old carpet, felt, or geotextile fabric for this purpose. Cut the underlayment to fit the shape of your pond, leaving some extra material around the edges.
- Cover the underlayment with a pond liner, which is a waterproof material that holds the water in your pool. You can use rubber, PVC, or EPDM liners for this purpose. Cut the liner to fit the shape of your pond, leaving some extra material around the edges.
- Edge the pond with stone, brick, pavers, or boulders to hide the edges of the liner and underlayment. You can also use plants or mulch to create a natural border around your pool. Make sure the edging is stable and secure and does not interfere with the water flow or reflection.
- Fill the pool with water, using a hose or a bucket. You can also add some de-chlorinator or conditioners to make the water safe for plants and animals. Check for any leaks or wrinkles in the liner and adjust as needed.
- Add any features or decorations to your pool, such as plants, rocks, sculptures, or fountains. You can also add some fish or snails to help keep the water clean and balanced. Make sure any electrical equipment is properly installed and safe for outdoor use.
- Enjoy your reflecting pool and maintain it regularly by removing any debris, algae, or dirt from the water surface and edges. You can also use a filter, pump, or skimmer to keep the water circulating and clear. You may need to drain and clean your pool once or twice a year, depending on the weather and water quality.