Choosing & Caring For Your Fountain
A well-planned and well-placed fountain is a source of constant joy in the garden! To help you make the right choices and enjoy them for years to come, here are some guidelines for choosing and caring for fountains.
We carry fountains in bronze, concrete and resin. Bronze pieces are cherished for their durability and individual patina. Resin fountains are lightweight so they can be moved easily and even enjoyed inside during the winter. The cast-stone (concrete) pieces we carry are all made in the United States. From small to very large in size, they are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes. These fountains have recirculating pumps and therefore do not require plumbing (although larger pieces can be be installed with plumbing). The pumps require nearby GFI electrical service and all fountains come with the appropriately powered pump. Most fountains are designed to allow the cord for the pump to go down the middle of the piece so that you will not have to see it. Fountains are manufactured in components to facilitate movement and maintenance. They usually have separate pedestals, basins, figures, and finials. Fountains with special effects, like arcing streams of water that come up from the basin to shower the figure, have special components (brass or plastic).
Except for small resin pieces, your fountain will be heavy, so you want to make sure you choose a fountain you really like and that it suits your space. In addition to style, color and size, consider the splash. Lots of separate streams falling longer distances will splash loudly and are ideal for a large space or as a white noise source to mask other ambient noise. Some flow quietly and are perfect for a more intimate setting.
Placing Your Fountain
Pick a spot for your fountain that best accents your landscape. Consider how you will view it from a window or a deck, while sitting or walking. Outdoor fountains will splash. Water outside the basin can be a hazard or an advantage, especially to any flowers planted around your fountain, so proper planning is essential. The fountain needs to be level and protected from the freezing ground in winter. Either elevate your fountain slightly with wooden spacers or place it on compacted sand and gravel. When we install a fountain (not necessary with small pieces, but highly recommended with heavy pieces), we dig down about 4 inches and lay a PVC tube from the center of the piece (or where the cord will come out of the bottom of the fountain) to the “edge.” We then spread and compact a 2 inch layer of gravel and then spread and compact a 2 inch layer of sand. Next, level to perfection. Some fountains need to be more perfectly level than others, depending on how the water flows over the piece. Consider other features you may want to incorporate into your fountain setup before you install it - such as lighting, and how and from where you want to turn it on and off (an indoor switch is a nice luxury).
Cleaning Your Fountain
Clean your fountain periodically to keep it looking its best. Turn off the pump and disconnect from electrical source. Scoop out or use a shop-vac to remove any debris and the old water. Then with fresh water, use a soft bristle brush to scrub off algae or dirt. Check that the pump is not clogged with debris. Remove as much soiled water as possible and refill with fresh water and your fountain is ready to go again.
The time between cleanings varies depending on the temperature (algae grows faster in warm weather) and how much debris tends to accumulate in your fountain. Using an algae preventative will extend the time necessary between cleanings. We carry lime remover and organic concrete cleaner for mineral or serious staining problems. We do not recommend the use of bleach or other solvents for cleaning your fountain as they may deteriorate the finish.
Mosquitoes do not breed in moving water, but if your fountain is not active over extended periods, we recommend using mosquito dunks.
How to Care For Your Fountain
Before winter, all basins and pockets need to be drained, and the pumps removed. The water must be emptied out, rags or burlap placed in the basins to absorb any condensation, and the entire fountain covered with a close-fitting cover. Any fountain left uncovered stands the risk of cracking, chipping, and losing its finish. If the fountain is too big to cover, keep the drains clear or the fountain will fill with water and it will crack. Fountains left outside for winter must be raised above ground level, on wood or blocks.
Pumps should be brought inside during the winter months or ice may crack them. If your pump cannot be removed, make sure the area it is in is dry and then wrap the pump with rags to insulate it.
Be especially careful not to run a pump without adequate water in the fountain or the pump will burn out!! High temperatures or high winds can empty a fountain very rapidly. Keep pump free from debris (i.e., leaves, etc.) especially in spring and fall.