Garden Fountains 101 - By: Lauren Kline
While you're out surveying the yard this spring, deciding what new changes to make, give some thought to making your own fountain. Not only do they make an attractive focal point in your yard, the sound of water is nice and soothing, and the birds love them.
With a little planning and a few supplies you can create your own one-of-a-kind backyard fountain during a weekend. If all goes well, you may have time to sit back with a cold drink and quietly relax to the sound of your very own babbling brook.
A fountain basically consists of a pipe for the water to flow through, a pump to force the water through, a container for all of this, and some sort of ornamental sculpture or object.
Your fountain runs off of electricity, so choose a location within reach of an outlet. Begin with a waterproof container or hole with plastic liner. This could also be as simple as a large, decorative, waterproof planter, an old cast urn or a plastic tote dug into the ground and placed on a light bed of gravel. Also dig a small trench to the nearest outlet to run some PVC pipe to carry your electrical cord to the outlet.
Using a string, thread through the conduit and tie to the end of the pump's plug. Pull through and tape to the end of the pipe, ensuring the cord doesn't get pulled back through. Lay the PVC in the trench and fill it in.
Place a rigid mesh screen above to prevent debris from entering the tub. A material such as composite decking should be placed over the screen to support the body of the fountain. A small trap door should be cut in the screen in case you ever have to reach in, unhook the pump and pull it out.
A submersible pump is placed at the bottom of the container. Fill the basin with enough water to cover the pump by 5 inches. Attach a 1/2 inch copper pipe to the pump and run it up through to the top of your sculpture or stones. It should be connected to the pump with a 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch compression female adapter, and should have a ball valve that will allow you to adjust the flow of the water.
*Handy Tip: To prevent debris and dust from damaging your pump, slip it inside a section of sheer pantyhose and tie off the ends with rubber bands.
Always double check the water level in your pump, especially in hot weather. If your pump is noisy, it may be that there is not enough water in the container.
Change the water every 4-6 months (more if you live in an area with extremely hard water). Anti-algae and anti-white scale water treatments to help prevent the growth of algae and prevent mineral deposits. A mixture of 1/4 cup bleach to five gallons of water will also help to clean algae from the system.
Occasionally you may have to clear your pump of debris. Simply unplug, remove and clean off (soak in vinegar to remove stubborn algae). Remove and clean off the magnetic impeller and replace.
The more you keep your fountain running, the longer it will last. The constant water flow helps to keep the water clean and free of buildup, and there is less wear and tear on the mechanical parts by not turning it on and off.
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