Water Feature

The best gardens are the ones that engage all of the senses: beautiful sights, lovely smells, smooth and scratchy textures and sounds, of nature and water and wind. Water fountains have been an important part of our garden for years. However, the last few years I have found them to be high maintenance and with mosquito borne illnesses in the news, it seemed they weren’t worth the trouble.

However, the garden is not the same without the sound of water. So, what about those mosquitoes? Mosquitoes will not lay eggs in running water. So as long as your fountain is functioning properly that is not an issue.

But keeping the fountain functioning does require effort. And don’t be lulled by sites that claim setting up a water fountain is easy. It is not easy but it is doable. Below are a few tips from my recent set up of our water fountain.

The first thing to do is figure out where the fountain will go. Keep in mind that you will need an electric outlet nearby to plug the pump into. I use an outdoor extension cord with mine. Once you have found the best place to hear and enjoy the sounds of trickling water, figure out what container you will use. The bottom container that the pump will be placed in should be solid enough to contain water, with no leaks. Since I want to use what I have I am using this old copper tub.

Next, you will need a water pump of sufficient power. I used this one. But it does not come with any extra spouts or tubing, which I will get to.

Now you have a container and a pump. The pump must be submerged in water at all times or the motor will burn out, part of the maintenance I was referring to. The water evaporates or pets may drink out of it. It’s a good idea to check on it every few days. The pump I ordered has a flow control valve on the side, which is very helpful. I also found it difficult to adjust easily. I tried to slightly turn it and it would not budge. Then I put some more pressure on it and got a shot of water in the face. I still have not found the perfect flow.

You may want something a little more decorative than a pump sitting in the bottom of a container. In that case you need tubing that fits on the pump nozzle and threads up into another container, this one with a hole in it. And how do you keep the tubing on the pump nozzle? This is the tricky part.

In this picture you can see a plastic tube sitting on the pump. The rigid plastic tube did not work. As soon as I plugged in the pump the tube shot across the patio into the bushes.

The pump came with three nozzles, 1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/4″. The 1/2″ tubing I had used in previous water fountains would not fit over the 1/4″ nozzle. I cut slits in it to make it fit. In normal times I would run to the hardware store and buy different tubing. But it’s working with the slits. You might want to order tubing to go with your pump. The iron plant stand was placed in the tub so that the more decorative elements would have a place to sit.

I placed the pump in a plant pot saucer to lessen the sound of the motor. Two larger rocks on either side of the pump keep it upright.

Again, using materials on hand, I looked around the house and in the garage for some object, jug or vase that water could flow out of. Said object needed a hole in the bottom for the tubing to go into. Finally, I settled on this pottery vase. It’s rustic look would work and I could try to put a hole in the bottom. It was quite easy. Using a screwdriver and a hammer, I tapped the bottom of the vase. The screwdriver slid in right away. I kept tapping around the edges of the hole until it was wide enough for the tube. I set the vase on the tube sticking out of the plant stand. Then I placed the stones around it.

There was not immediate success. I had to play with that valve control knob to keep the water from shooting out into the patio, or in my face. I also bought some spouts which are supposed to make the water flow more artistically. With a low flow the spout stays in the tube. As soon as the flow is adjusted to a higher level, the spout flies out into the yard. I’m still tinkering with this.

One more consideration for water flow is that the filter on your pump will get debris on it. This lessens the flow of water. By googling I found this ingenious solution which has worked really well for me.

My walks take me past a bamboo grove where there are usually dried stalks on the ground. I brought one home and decided to use it to disguise the cord to the water pump. Cutting it into shorter lengths was fairly easy.

By now you are probably thinking this sounds like way too much trouble. But every time I sit on my patio and hear the trickle of water, it’s just heaven.

A few more plants around the edges will help with anchoring the container to the setting. I’ll venture out in a few days. But for now I plan to just sit and enjoy the sound of water.

Have you tried adding a water fountain to your garden?

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