Bamboo is a grass. It's woody grass, sure, but it's a grass.

This is a surprising fact for many people... But it makes sense when we recall that bamboo is widely known to grow at such an amazing rate. Bamboo doesn't grow like a tree. Rather, each segment of the trunk grows - so that the plant extends like a spyglass.

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Bamboo Fountain

Because of its growth rate and the legendary strength of certain types of bamboo, it's frequently used as a building material. In many areas, however, it's not particularly common.

If you happen to live in an area where bamboo structures are prevalent - a water fountain made from it will fit nicely. If not, the bamboo has a different affect, but it's one that can enhance and accent your garden, home or yard.

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If bamboo is not a material that is featured in your yard, don't be concerned that adding a bamboo water feature will clash. It may be a grass, but the woody husk makes it blend with the earthy tones and colors of garden rocks, flowers and plants.

Since bamboo reeds (or culm) tend to be perfectly straight, however, when they are made into fountains they are clearly man-made - which is in stark contrast with what many people look for in outdoor water fountains such as rock features and garden waterfalls.

A bamboo water fountain is not going to look natural. They're too angular for that. Rather, these structured culms sit in or around the garden in a way that can't be completely organic.

Not to over-analyze, but the very idea of tending a garden is in organizing plants and earthen objects in a way that doesn't happen in nature. Even the most carefully, lovingly landscaped garden is ultimately arranged by the gardener. However subtle the transition between color, texture and tone, a garden is more a reflection of the artist's pallet than it is a depiction of a natural environment - even if nature is the canvas.

Certainly there are exceptions. In any case, a bamboo fountain adds an elegance that only comes if we don't get hung up on the fact that it doesn't try to look completely natural. That is to say, despite the organic material and flow of water, it's not pretending to look like it grew there on its own.

This is one aspect of using a material as foreign as bamboo that might have people shy. The fact of the matter is, however, that it's not alien. It looks like wood. It's round like a trunk or branch. And though bamboo might stand out somewhat - for all the reasons listed above - it does so with an elegance that's attractive and distinctive.

To put it another way: There's no reason to hide the fact that you've orchestrated the arrangement of your garden. Drawing a bit of attention to that fact - as adding a bamboo water fountain may do - will only heighten the appreciation for the care that's gone into the whole.

What we're really talking about is added contrast. Materials that stand out will shape the texture of a garden. Water features in general do this, by adding sound and motion.

A similar effect can be achieved by the addition of some inorganic object, like a ceramic garden stool. A decorative garden stool will stand out as an accent. If you use the stool to elevate a potted plant, suddenly it becomes a showcase of the grasp and shaping of nature's materials.

Field Outdoor Spaces via Flickr Commons

Much of what it boils down to is not being concerned with having elements in the garden that stand out as being intentionally different. How different is up to you, but it's experimenting with accents like bamboo fountains and objects that differ from the foundations of the patch that make the plot stand out... if that's your intention.

Clearly, bamboo is the resounding example used here. But similar affect can be gained by adding latticework for ivy or some type of sign to the garden - anything that stands out on its own. By and large, this can be accomplished by any number of outdoor water features, bamboo or not, but it's important to take into consideration the material that is used, whether it's bamboo, ceramic, stone or what have you.

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