Outdoor fountains fit into any style garden. A fountain packs a lot of charm into a small landscaping space. Whether traditional or contemporary, it propels a stream of water through the air and creates a cooling effect. It’s ideal for up-close viewing, which is why fountains are usually located on a porch, patio, or other sitting area.
A fountain can attach to a wall or stand alone. Some freestanding fountains are designed to rest in-or next to-a pool or pond, while others are water features unto themselves, working well on a deck, patio, lawn, or tucked into a flower bed. Tabletop fountains have recently become popular, taking just minutes to set up.
You can choose from a wide variety of styles, colors, materials, and sizes. However, choose an outdoor water fountain that is in keeping with the overall style of your garden and home. A classical statuary fountain might look out of place in a simple country garden, for example. A wall fountain fashioned of brick and stone or stone look-alike is best set against similarly sturdy masonry-not wood-siding.
Most fountains are made of precast concrete. Reconstituted stone and fiberglass have also become popular, simulating the look of stone with amazing realism. Whether concrete or stone look-alike, fountains come in numerous colors and surface finishes. Finding just the right fountain for your garden takes some research. Visit garden centers to scout their offerings. Ask if there are other fountains that you can special order. Also check out mail-order catalogs. If you want a special, one-of-a-kind fountain, visit art fairs or ask at art galleries for the names of local artists who might design a fountain for you.
If you want fish, avoid outdoor water fountains made of lead. Lead is toxic to fish.
A statuary fountain adds not only splash and movement but also a decorative element that helps set the mood of the water feature.
Appealing because of its ease of installation, a freestanding outdoor fountains also makes an ideal focal point for a patio, flower bed, or lawn. In this type of outdoor water fountain, a small submersible pump is housed in the lower pedestal, in a hollow base beneath the bowl. Its design should allow easy access to the pump so you can clean and maintain it, usually monthly.
These ornamental fountains can be placed near a pond or pool or in the water feature itself. The decorative statue has a supply pipe projecting from its base. The pipe is connected to the pump with flexible tubing. Large statues must have firm footing. For an outdoor water fountain on the side of a pond, make sure its resting place (including any edging) is firm and level. If you want to install the fountain in the pond, you can mount it on a hollow in-pond pedestal created specifically for that purpose or build your own with mortared bricks or stone. If the statue is small, black plastic storage crates make an easy, hard-to-detect base as long as the base of the fountain is slightly under water.
Fountains in sunny spots tend to have problems with algae. If you are not raising fish or plants in your outdoor water fountain, you can prevent algae by adding chlorine bleach to the fountain water. Add it at the rate of 2 ounces of bleach to every 10 gallons of water, once a month. If that doesn’t work, increase the amount of bleach to 5 ounces. If you do have plants or fish, consider using an algaecide. Make sure it’s labeled for use in ponds with fish and plants; follow package directions exactly.
Take good care of your outdoor water fountain year-round to greatly prolong its life. One of the best things you can do for concrete fountains and statuary is to apply a concrete sealer to prevent moisture from getting into the concrete and expanding and cracking it when the water freezes. It’s also important to drain the fountain before freezing weather arrives to prevent ice from forming on the pump. Ice can crack pump housings and cause seals to fail. It also can crack basins.
If you can, drain the fountain by tipping over the basin. If you can’t tip the basin, siphon or pump it out. Prevent rain, ice, and snow from collecting again in the basin by covering the fountain or statuary with a sheet of plastic. Tie the plastic down well to prevent it from flapping in the wind, which quickly destroys the plastic.
Many pumps will dry out, shrinking the seals and preventing the fountain from working properly. Over winter store your pump in a bucket of water in a basement or heated garage. It’s also important that the cord does not dry out; cracked cords can cause dangerous shorts.