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Fountain of gladness

Adding the soothing beauty of bubbling water to your home landscape

Every spring, gardeners have visions as great as the stars above for how wonderful, how vast, how weed-free the acreage might be. That’s before the deer and rabbits show up, the sure-fire tomatoes turn fickle, the flowers fizzle. Or maybe this is the year when all that hard work pays off, the weather complies, and the garden looks glorious! The uncertainty of results is exactly where a soothing fountain in the yard can help.

No matter what grows in the garden or what doesn’t, whether the day’s been rough or perfectly swell, the sound of running water can be a balm for the spirit. That’s why many home gardeners incorporate water features in their landscape design—anything from a small burbling fountain perched at the side of the deck to elaborate, built-from-scratch models.


Choosing a pump and power source

Fountains need power to circulate the water. Some simpler models are sold with a compatible submersible pump. If you’re designing your own water feature, make sure to choose a pump that’s strong enough to create the effect you want. A pump’s specifications will tell you how many gallons per hour it can circulate and how much lift it can provide to push the water to the fountainhead. Consider adding a timer so it operates only when you’re most likely to be at home to enjoy it.

What will power the pump, household electricity or a solar panel? Is there an outdoor rated outlet nearby? Or will you need to dig a trench and safely bury the power cable? If you choose solar power, is there enough sunshine for reliable operation? Although solar fountain pumps will not affect your monthly electricity bill, be aware that if the charge runs out on a cloudy day or too early at night, the water music will shut down until the solar panel can recharge.


Mastering the elements of style

Before you decide on a fountain design, think about scale, materials, power source, and maintenance. Would you prefer stone, metal, ceramics, or synthetic materials such as fiberglass? Consider the fountain’s weight and size, making sure there’s an adequate level foundation.

In bubbling fountains, water bubbles to the top of a pot, then cascades gently down the sides, where it’s collected into a basin and recycled back up. These models are generally compact and well-suited for small spaces.

Other fountains are more elaborate, with water spilling from one tier to a lower one, or shooting from a spout or jet. Bubbling or spilling fountains typically produce more running-water sound, but a jetting fountain can add visual drama. Consider both your overall landscape design and your home’s style of architecture to make sure the fountain adds the right accent point.

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