From Wild Streams to Backyard Waterfalls: How Nature Inspired Sean Frost’s Award-Winning Water Features

Sean's Early Inspiration

Sean Frost has been drawn to nature and the wild since he was a child growing up in New Hampshire. He spent much of his free time exploring the forests and brooks near his home. One place he returned to frequently was a wilderness brook called Wild Meadow Brook.

This brook became a particularly special place for Sean. He would often sit along its banks and observe the way the water slid over rocks, formed small caverns and waterfalls, and created intricate patterns as it flowed downstream. Sean was struck by the brook’s natural beauty and the feelings of serenity and inspiration it evoked in him.

Years later when Sean began building his own water features, he found himself continually returning to Wild Meadow Brook for inspiration. The formations and flows he witnessed along the brook served as the template for the living water features and ponds he constructed across the country. Though he worked with manufactured materials, Sean aimed to recreate the organic shapes and tranquil sounds from his childhood explorations. For Sean, building water features was a way of sharing the natural splendor and tranquility he experienced along Wild Meadow Brook.

Experimenting with Water Features

Sean started building small ponds and water features as a creative outlet in high school, college, and during his time serving in the Navy. He found it was a great way to channel his artistic talents and love for nature. At first, Sean viewed pond building just as a hobby or side project while he pursued other careers. He continued constructing water features for customers during the summer months but focused on house building and construction work during the colder seasons. 

Gaining Confidence as a Professional

Sean continued building ponds and water features as a side business for many years while also working as a homebuilder. He was starting to consider pursuing water features as a full-time career, but still had doubts that he could make a living from it, especially in the harsh New England winters.

A major boost came when one of Sean’s projects was featured in Yankee Magazine. Having his work published in a widely-read regional magazine helped establish credibility and legitimacy as a water feature builder, even if that was more in Sean’s own mind than in the minds of customers.

The real turning point came when Sean attended a water feature construction event hosted by Aquascape at Chester Hollow Water Gardens. There, Sean met and worked alongside many successful full-time water feature builders who were part of the Aquascape community. Interacting with this passionate group helped Sean realize that he could, in fact, channel his passion for art and nature into water features as a viable career. Meeting other people who were doing it full-time gave Sean the confidence he needed to fully commit to water features and seize the opportunity before him. The relationships formed through Aquascape proved pivotal in transitioning his part-time pond building business into a successful full-time endeavor.

Focusing on Water Features

Sean always had a passion for water features, building them on the side while pursuing careers in other construction fields. This changed in 2008 when the housing market crashed, ending much of Sean’s construction work.

With his side business of water features still going strong, Sean decided it was time to fully focus on his true passion. Encouraged by his partner April, Sean committed to water features as a full-time endeavor. The transition was supported by new relationships with the team at Aquascape, who helped Sean expand his business.

Meeting Aquascape gave Sean the confidence to lean into the opportunity in front of him. Channeling his love for art and nature, Sean transformed his part-time water feature work into a successful career.

Expanding through Travel

An interesting thing that Sean found as he started down this journey of building water features was in New Hampshire they only have six months out of the year really to work in their market. So by proxy, April and Sean ended up doing a lot of travel work and broadening that market a lot because they were always networking and searching for markets to go to in the off season. In the beginning it was a survivability situation where they just needed to make a living and to do that they needed to work year-round.

So in order to sustain their New Hampshire-based business with the short building season, Sean and April consistently sought out water feature projects in other markets during the off-season winter months. This allowed them to expand their business beyond just local projects and establish a national reputation and clientele. The travel was born out of necessity but ended up being crucial in growing and sustaining their business long-term.

Becoming a Teacher

Sean went from learning to teaching others in the water feature industry without even realizing the transition had occurred. At some point along his journey of building water features, instead of being taught himself, Sean became the teacher. He didn’t notice the shift until companies began calling him specifically to train their crew. Teaching came naturally to Sean, even if he didn’t realize it at first. He grew up in a family of teachers – his mother taught for over 30 years and his father was a college professor for a time. Sean realized he had been taught how to teach without even knowing it, which made his evolution into a teacher in the water feature industry all the more interesting.

Artistry in Water Features

Sean views each water feature project he takes on as a commissioned work of art. He aims to create unique, nature-inspired water features that become treasured additions to his clients’ landscapes.

Just as a painter would be hired to create a custom portrait for a client, Sean feels he is brought in to artistically design personalized water features. He approaches each project as an opportunity to carefully craft every rock, plant, and water flow into a beautiful, original creation.

Unlike a typical construction project, Sean does not want clients handing designs to a third party. He feels having the landowners work directly with him allows for a more intimate, artistic process. Together they can develop a shared vision to transform the space.

For Sean, the most rewarding clients to work with are those interested in collaborating. He fondly recalls sharing a glass of wine to chat over concepts with one couple at the end of a long day. Building strong relationships enhances the experience.

Every water feature Sean designs stems from a passion for nature. Whether drawing inspiration from a favorite childhood swimming hole or studying water flows across the country, organic landscapes are his muse. Sean transforms memories and discoveries into stunning realities.

Focusing on Organic, Intimate Designs

Sean avoids creating the large, flashy waterfalls you might find in a commercial space like a mall or hotel. Instead, he aims for organic, intimate designs full of small details that feel natural. As Sean describes it, he doesn’t need “10 to 15 thousand gallons of flow” to make a waterfall intimate. Rather, he finds that “all of these little rivulets, these little details, that’s what makes it intimate.”

Rather than towering falls, Sean focuses on elements like small cascades, tiny streams, and minor rock formations that break up the flow of water. He also makes an effort to incorporate diverse natural materials, not just rocks. Sean explains that a water feature design requires “a pallet of colors and several different brushes and tools to create a work of art.” To him, it’s important to blend elements like wood, plants, gravel, cobble, and moss to complement the rocks. This variety of textures and elements is key for constructing water features that feel believable, organic, and integrated into their environments.

Sean’s artful, intricate approach allows him to design unique water features that feel like they belong. As he puts it, his aim is to “build it so that you could walk onto this site and think that this has been here for millions of years.” The result is living water features that feel like seamless extensions of their natural surroundings.

Creating a Sense of Place

Sean strives to design water features that feel integrated into their surrounding landscape. He carefully chooses rocks, plants, and other elements that complement the existing terrain and architecture. This helps create a cohesive look, as if the water feature had been there for years.

More than visual appeal, Sean crafts water features to engage all the senses. The sights of flowing water and natural rocks blend seamlessly into the environment. The sounds of cascading waterfalls and bubbling streams beckon people to come closer. Strategically placed rocks project and amplify these water sounds. Sean describes the effect as “grasping you” and drawing you into the space.

By considering how people experience the water feature, Sean creates a meaningful sense of place. The sights, sounds, and ambiance transport you and make the space feel alive. His goal is for the water feature to feel like a natural extension of the home it accents. The personalized design reflects the homeowners and creates a convergence point for gathering. In this way, Sean’s artistry turns backyards into unique, inviting retreats.

Blending Features Into the Landscape

Sean is very intentional about integrating his water features into the surrounding environment in an organic way. He seeks to make it look as if the features have existed naturally for a long time, rather than appearing artificially added or out of place.

To achieve this seamless integration, Sean studies the natural landscape before beginning a project. He looks at elements like the regional geology, terrain, and native plant life to understand the area’s character. Sean then selects rocks and other materials that suit that specific location.

For example, when working in New Hampshire Sean mimics the ledge rock formations typical of the region. But in South Carolina, where the terrain is flatter, he imports and arranges rocks in a way that matches the lower, more scattered rock features found there.

Beyond rocks, Sean incorporates a diverse mix of natural materials – wood, plants, gravel, moss and more. Using this range of “colors” allows him to paint a complete picture that feels like a natural extension of the site. The goal is for the water feature to seem as if it has always existed there, uncovered from the earth rather than added to it.

Sean’s thoughtful approach to integrating water features allows him to create living artworks uniquely suited to their surroundings. His custom craftsmanship helps the features feel like they authentically belong.

Sean Frost x Easton Outdoors

Over the years we have had the opportunity of learning from and working with Sean on a variety of projects. Thanks to his advice and artistry in this field, we have been able to build some truly incredible projects. Here are a few of our favorites: ​

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