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Water Features: Dorky Decor Or Awesome Stress-Reducing Hack??

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A couple of weeks ago Emily brought up one of her “maybe dorky but actually awesome” ideas that I hadn’t really considered . . . The Outdoor Water Fountain/Feature. Honestly, I have had a love/hate relationship with at-home water fountains. We had a plugin one in the entry of our house growing up and it sounded like someone who had consumed 10 Big Gulps and was finally “relieving themselves” 24/7. Sorry for the visual. BUT, after hearing Emily’s convincing argument for the soothing power of a water feature (she herself has a couple of fountains and a man-made stream), and then coming up to my dad’s house with a new and improved version of the fountain from my youth, I was on board.

Look, water is healing, and the sound of it is soothing. I don’t have the studies handy but it just is. Plus in a time when anxiety is collectively at an all-time high and we are spending (or should be if possible) a lot of time at home, we need to bring the sounds nature in. Well unless, of course, you live on the beach, or next to a river or any other body of water. If you do, please know that I am trying to keep my jealously at bay (pun intended), because man that sounds SO GOOD right now. But for those not living next to nature, I pulled together 36 of our favorite garden fountains so you too can bring a little water ASMR into your life. You won’t be sorry.

Actually, one more thing before we get into all the shoppable fountain options! I wanted to touch on the man-made stream. As I said, Emily has one in her backyard at the mountain house (it was already there when they bought it), and the whole family LOVES it. So I wanted to find a helpful article for those of you who might want to DIY one in your yard. Here is that article, and if you attempt it PLEASE let us know how it went!

But for those not interested in DIYing, let’s shop starting with some small tabletop fountains. These are great outside or inside. That means people without outdoor spaces (me) can benefit too!

1. Geo Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete Oval | 2. Amelie Bird | 3. Water Fountain Rock | 4. Ternary | 5. Toledo | 6. Cylinia

I really love the simplicity of #1. It’s the kind of fountain that could work in almost any style of home. Plus finding fountains for under $100 isn’t always easy. I also love the whimsy of #2. I mean how sweet are those little birds?! (And that’s coming from someone who has had a decent fear of birds most of her life).

Next up, wall fountains (both ground and hanging)

Bunge Fountain 2.0 (it’s a DIY by my dad)

Let’s say you have outdoor space, but not so much that you can plop a large fountain in the middle of it. Please let me introduce you to the wall fountain. First up, the ground version. It’s great for those who don’t want to hang a fountain up on a wall (and make holes) but want to, like I said before, save on space.

1. Tribus | 2. Barcelona | 3. Marais | 4. Auberge | 5. Colonna | 6. Closerie

This might be my favorite category because all of the fountains are simple but special. But if I had to pick my favorite it would be #5. I mean stop it with that arch!

1. Portico | 2. Mallorca | 3. Royal Lion | 4. Rusty Red | 5. Vintage French White Enamel | 6. Tristin | 7. Vintage French Cast Iron | 8. Dunnell | 9. Fountain in Zellige

Now while a hanging wall fountain does require a bit more labor, they are also SO PRETTY! Look at #1 for a classic European style, or #5 for that perfect vintage charm, or the heavenly masterpiece that is #9. All of them are so good.

Now let’s get off of the wall and into some other options . . .

This is the front of Em’s LA house:)

Yes, this is Emily’s front yard (which we’ve never officially shot, outside of some fashion shoots and some holiday doorway styling). And she loves this fountain. It was one of the high priorities on the front yard list when she was designing it. And listening to the water cascading down really just makes walking into her home (back when we used to do that) so magical. It’s secretly so soothing.

So let’s first talk about pedestal fountains . . .

1. Aurelia| 2. Carrera | 3. Caterina | 4. Jensen | 5. High Sandstone Outdoor Bird Bath | 6. Borghese | 7. Mission | 8. Relic Lava | 9. Europa Plinth

A pedestal fountain is such a classic and elegant type of fountain. As proven by my favorites, I am really into the more traditional styles so #1 and #6 have my heart. Also full disclosure, #9 is a birdbath so you won’t get the running water sounds but look at that shape?! Exactly. So pretty.

Ok last but not least we have our big kid fountains and some non-traditional options…

1. Beauvais | 2. 3-Stacked Tubs Under Faucet | 3. Henrietta | 4. Harpeth | 5. Borghese | 6. Tall Antique Vintage Sink

If you were drooling over Emily’s front yard fountain then you are in luck because #1 is that fountain. If you have the space and budget it’s a showstopper. But if you want something a bit more modest I really love #2. How cute would it look in a garden?! Plus at $84, it’s a total steal.

Well, that’s it for today. Since it’s the weekend I hope that even if you don’t decide on adding a fountain to your home that you enjoy some form of water to cool off (maybe like this??). I am the worst at making sure I take the time to do things like that, but when I do it’s like medicine for my soul. Hmm that got deep quick! So I bid you adieu, maybe fill up my kiddie pool, listen to my dad’s fountain, and wish you a great rest of your Saturday.

Love you, meant it.

Fin Mark

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Rusty

What a luverly round up Jess! My fav is the blue n white wall fountain! I’ve lusted after and then loathed water features to the point that we’ve never actually done it! We’ve seriously and arduously laboured over sizes, pumps, outlets, sizes, materials, the works!!! We nearlllllllly bought about 5! But … we still don’t have one. We DO have two unglazed terracotta bird baths that are grand central for so, so many birds! We have over 10 different species of bird in our garden on any hiven day. Owls, Magpies, Bush Doves, Turtle Doves, Ibis, Willywagtails, Wattle Birds, New Holland Honey Eaters, tiny Silver Eyes, Common Honey Eaters, Butcher Birds, Hawks, Kookaburras, Rainbow Lorikeets, a variety of Cockatoos and Galahs, King Fishers … amazing. We live with the Perth Zoo at the end ofout very heavily treed street, which brings them in too. LOVE! Also, beneficial insects need still water to drink from, like bees, butterflies, bugs, etc. The point? Given the post is about water features … Well, I’ve kinda given up on the moving-water feature and stuck with the still water that the birds like to bathe in and drink from. Specifically unglazed, because the terracotta grows… Read more »

Water Features are absolutely stunning for a residential or commercial location.

Like any other specialty craft you need the right contactor.

Look up the Liquid Designz of Bergen County NJ

http://www.liquiddesignznj.com

Susanna

Would love a similar roundup of more modern water features.

Janine

My mother installed a koi pond with a waterfall at her house, and while I originally questioned it, it’s been such a calming area to relax near. All the grandkids love that they can feed and watch the fish, and the koi are gorgeous!

Rusty

Ooooh, people in a big masion around the corner have a huge Koi pond that hasxto be walked over to get to their frontdoor. I think they’re Japanese. It looks so beautiful.

Paula

There’s a Vietnamese restaurant in Beverly Hills called Crustacean, and they have a stream under the floor in the main dining room (with koi!), so you actually walk on the stream itself. And the food is delish.

patricia

I made my own fountain; large glazed tera cotta pot, filled with rock and a bubbler/spray that can be adjusted. I used to have a fancier bamboo spout but the raccoons kept taking it apart looking for fish. The hummingbirds loved to bathe in the spray. If I didn’t turn on the fountain when I went out to soak in the hot tub early on summer mornings, the hummingbirds would fly over me and complain until I got out and plugged it in.

Rusty

I love that story! 🥰

Paula

Raccoons are very dextrous, and they LOVE water. We have them all the time. If you get up early you’ll sometimes find watery raccoon paw prints on the bridges over our “streams.”

Emily

Fountains are beautiful – but they can require a lot of maintenance and aren’t for everyone. If you have the time and maybe no kids, then absolutely get a fountain. However – if you’re a young family let me be your cautionary tale! When we moved into our house, it had a big, beautiful wall mounted fountain in the garden. It was early spring so it wasn’t running yet; when the weather got warmer we filled it up, turned it on, and loved it for about three weeks. Then we discovered it needed a cocktail of chemicals to keep it from becoming algae infested, it bred mosquitos, our dog thought it was her own personal water trough, and our kids thought it was really run to throw leaves and sticks and gravel into it. It’s been empty for two years now while we debated what to do with it. We’re afraid to take it off the wall because it’s concrete and heavy and we don’t know the condition of the wall behind it, and we’d have to deal with disconnecting the electrical, and find someone to buy it or haul it off. At this point I think I may drill… Read more »

Skye

I’m so surprised and sad to hear the air fountain has been so difficult! I am in San Francisco and I have a fountain on my porch. It plugs into an external outlet and it’s not connected to plumbing; it’s an overturned urn with a hole in the bottom (top) for the water to come through. We have an underground reservoir for the recirculating pump that holds maybe five or 6 gallons. I usually just fill it with gray water from our washing machine, once or twice a week. It’s easy to tell when the water is getting low because you can hear air bubbles in the fountain. We’ve never had any insects and my kids have grown up with it and always left it alone. Sonetimes we have algae and I scrape it off.

Rusty

??? What about the birds and critters, bees, etc. that use/drink from your fountain?? …. gray water can’t be good for them? Yikes!?

Amy KS

why not turn it into a planter, or is it too small for that?

Amber

Perhaps a dumb question, but what do you do with fountains (or streams) in the winter? I know that’s not really an issue in LA, but it snows at the mountain house.

Sheila

Good question about the mountain house stream.
Where I grew up in northern NY, most people drained fountains and blew out any water lines as part of regular winter prep to avoid damage from freezing pipes. Some people with koi ponds used a small heater. The surface of the pond froze over but the water on the bottom circulated and stayed warm enough to keep the fish alive. Never knew anyone with a fake stream though!

Jessica

Birdbath heaters are a thing, too, so maybe folks use those for smaller fountains?

Julie

I unplug my fountain & scoop out any stuff floating in it. Then cover the top (with a square that I made from scrap wood & stapled mesh screen to). It keeps the leaves & junk out. Takes 5 minutes of time. Then I dream of starting it up in the spring.
An even easier thing you can do is look online for fountain covers – just like outdoor furniture covers. Simply drain the water and cover it.

Rusty

Uh-oh … again, what about thewildlife and critters that have learned to rely on this water?? Suddenly it’s no longer there?
Humans!

isabelle

If you live in a place where ponds and lakes freeze over, it’s not going to be the only water source that is suddenly no longer there. A lot of animals rely on streams or other moving bodies of water at that point (if they are not the hibernating type) because any standing water of that size will be frozen. That’s not to say you can’t still provide water for them in other ways, but letting a fountain full of water freeze will often damage the pump and then you’re not going to have a fountain anyway…

Kristine C.

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a fountain to drown out our close neighbors’ noise and hide some of our own. If you’re noise sensitive like me, you have to be careful: some make really noisy burbling sounds, some make a constant stream, some have a gentle water roll, and some are nearly silent. Beyond chemical maintenance, you have to frequently add water, sometimes daily (it evaporates and/or splashes!). The pump motor can burn out if water levels drop too low. Two of our neighbors now have fountains, and I’ve since decided to listen to theirs instead of making more work for myself. 😉

Lauren

We have large flower beds, with rock mulch, and they are sparsely planted. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do in one specific spot and this is PERFECT. I love that very first fountain.

mab

These are lovely, but for us newbies to water fountains, could you please explain what is needed to install these, this would really be a helpful addition to this blog as many of our not full on DIY people. I would love one on my patio or back berm wall garden, but do you need water pipes, do you need an electrical outlet. And doesn’t that take away from the natural look. They always show the fountain, but don’t explain how to do it. This would really be helpful as this info is much more difficult to find.

Sheila

I didn’t click through to every one to see the specs but most, if not all, of these will require access to an electrical outlet to run the pump. In my experience, most submersible pumps here in the US have a 3-prong plug to guard against electrical shock so you will want the appropriate sort of outlet and extension cord if necessary. Depending on the construction and local codes it can be an easy job to add an exterior outlet. There are solar fountains available that don’t need electricity, though I’m not sure if any of the featured fountains are that type. Some solar fountains will only run when the sun is shining, others either have or can be connected to a back-up battery so you can use it after dark. Some have built-in solar collectors others have a panel that you can place elsewhere but hiding that stuff can be more difficult than hiding an electrical cord. The use of some painted conduit and/or strategically placed potted plants are a big help in hiding cords and outlets. I don’t believe any of these require plumbing though some of the big ones may accept it. No plumbing means you need… Read more »

Rusty

You can also get SOLAR POWERED PUMPS!!

Jasper

The best fountain on here is the one Jess’ dad made. Guest post featuring Jess’ dad showing us this DIY plz!!!

Deb

Our new discovery is a solar bird bath fountain. Love it, and so do the birds. It came with 4 different nozzles, or use without a nozzle for a bubbler effect. We can’t have ground level water sources here, next to open space and snakes like to come drink too. They don’t bother with the bird bath. Some of the nozzles are louder than others, and one goes really high, saw a video of hummingbirds flying through the spray. Love it and less than $35. No electrician, plumber, or construction mess.

To prevent algae add a 3 or 4 inch length of copper tubing to the water basin. I think that is why people started throwing coins in fountains. They saw the pennies the gardener put in to stop algae growth. You can use pennies too, just the older ones that have more copper. I found the pipe is easier to remove for cleaning.

Dena

That is great to know about copper! We have two hummingbirds that come by everyday, I am going to look this fountain up. Such a bonus tat it is solar. Thanks!

karen

Great tip with the copper tubing. Thanks!

Rusty

This is great!!! 😃

Julie

My water fountain is the favorite part of my yard. The fabulous yard guru, Jeffery Bale created a simple, yet gorgeous cast concrete fountain with a pebble mosaic insert for the spout. After about 15 years, the fountain and the wall behind it got a little mossy as the picture will attest to, but a fast power-wash a few years ago cleaned it up and it looks incredible. Watching the hummingbirds fly into the water stream to wash is nature at its best. I adore it so much, that I know I will always have a fountain wherever I live.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/68741599473/

Jennifer S.

Hi! I really love the Bunge 2.0 DIY fountain! Can we get please get a post on that DIY? It suits my small courtyard perfectly! Thanks and I love this roundup, what a great idea!

Amy KS

Me, too. That one is exactly my aesthetic.

Anon

Water features if they aren’t cheesy are great. Mass produced desktop water thingys are usually sad. 🙁 Maybe better to get a small fish tank with an aerator and a goldfish or beta?

I’m so lucky to have a big pond outside my back patio door. The pond has several water re-circulators that keep the water fresh and free of mosquitos (by keeping the water moving so larvae can’t hatch). We have wild ducks who hang out in the ponds most of the year. Crows and other birds frequent the ponds too. In another area of the complex the pond has Koi and water lilys. We have “streams” with little water falls throughout the complex and the sound and sight is delightful. If it is done right, i.e. naturalistic, it’s wonderful. I guess it could be done badly too.

The pond maintenance company is here several times a month. The upkeep is significant. It’s not a trivial expense.

Rusty

I love this! Everybody and creature is enjoying it! Yay!

isabelle

FYI FOR THOSE READING: DO NOT PUT A GOLDFISH IN A SMALL TANK. All caps for visibility, because this is a common misconception. Goldfish CANNOT live in bowls, and bettas should have three gallon tanks, minimum. Goldfish, depending on the species, require a minimum tank size of 20-75 gallons PER fish. Aquariums need to be filtered (not just aerated) and maintained for optimal water quality, and often heated. Walstad tanks can be maintained without a filter, but require more expertise than a beginner aquarist will have, and goldfish are not a good fit for Walstad tanks because they destroy plants and create huge amounts of waste. I don’t want to hear how your nephew’s goldfish lived “for a whole year” in a bowl. Goldfish can get very large and live for decades if they are given proper care, but oftentimes they are not. They are not the dumb, short-lived fish that people make them out to be. They do not “adapt to the size of their tank.” They can recognize their owners, and fish feel pain, stress, etc. just like we do. Goldfish (or any aquatic animal, really) should not be placed in ponds that connect to natural waterways (including… Read more »

Rusty

You make some sound points.

karen

We recently put in a rock pit for our young kid to drive his cars around. Neighbors thought it was a Zen Garden ha. We installed a small water feature with a drain, but the upkeep with the water changing is annoying in summer heat. I JUST ordered a solar fountain gadget to float in there in order to keep water flowing a bit. They’re designed for bird baths. It’s an inexpensive route to take if you want to attempt begin your fountain dreams small-scale.

Jenberry

I have a lovely screened in porch BUT our AC unit was right next to it…not great when it was cycling on and off. Well this year we replaced it and moved it to the other side of the house and where it used to be I put a cascading foundation and now the porch is definitely my favorite place to read a book or take a nap or have a glass of wine with friends. It really made such a huge difference.

Karyn

We have a gorgeous waterfall fountain in our backyard. We found it at a garden center and it was a LOT…$1400. But we gulped and ordered it, just to have them drop it and break it when loading for delivery. Sad, yes?? But NO. We asked where it was made we could see a different color and found that they ordered from a local wholesaler. Who just happens to sell to everyone!! We went up and found our fountain list listed for $400!! So we paid $400 for a fountain that nearly cost us $1400!! Moral of the story…if you are in a garden center shopping for a fountain, see if they source it locally and go there.

Kat

I would like to add a recommendation for thirsty cat fountains. https://thirstycatfountains.com/ They are lovely looking and if you have pets, they will try to drink out of your fountain anyway, so might as well give them one that encourages them to drink. My cats love it and it sits on my kitchen counter looking lovely and sounding delightful.

Paula

I’ve never found a table-top water feature that I really liked. That birdy one is cute, though! I can’t install any outside ones, because I live in a condo complex. But…. we have artificial streams and ponds throughout our complex, and I love them. They really help you to feel cool on a hot day. They attract birds, dragonflies, and, well, raccoons, but wildlife is cool. We’ve had a breeding pair of ducks that keep coming back (it’s been over 10 years), and you feel you’re involved in the circle of life.

Julie S

I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one with a weakness for a water feature! Not just one but two of the homes in which I rented rooms during my single years had some kind of fountain near the front door, and the impact was STRONG. I’ve wanted one for years without actually ever making plans for how it could happen, and now the dreaming feels more robust and full of potential. We have a birdbath left from the previous owners that gets lots of visitors (we hand fill it) and I’m thinking how/what I could do a real fountain with instead.

Kd

We have had the Campania Echo fountain in the unstained color for 4 years now, and it has held up well. I called a few local garden centers to find the lowest price when we bought it; even if they don’t stock the fountain they can order it for you. I also just saw a cool “modern style Lighted LED Water Fountain“ on VivaTerra. https://www.vivaterra.com/en/outdoor/garden/garden-accents/lighted-led-water-fountain/p/v4932

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