Water is the greatest indicator that there is life present in a place. It’s the reason why Earth is called the “Blue Planet,” and it’s why life thrives here more than any other place in the known universe.
A fountain reminds us of the vibrancy flowing through our gardens, creating tranquility and attracting wildlife. Read on for 20 great fountain ideas to inspire you and a DIY option to keep you busy!
Our gardens are like mini reflections of this. We water our soil, nurture life, and take great joy in seeing it flourish as gardeners.
People add fountains to their gardens for lots of different reasons. Some are purely decorative, and others may be an invitation to birds and wildlife to come and take a drink. The sound of a gently bubbling fountain can also be incredibly relaxing and stress-busting.
Japanese Style Fountain
People have adopted Japanese-style gardens all around the world for a good reason. As well as being beautiful, each element within them is carefully designed to serve a practical or symbolic purpose, and the use of water is a huge part of the process.
Fountains in these gardens are often cleverly positioned to catch the sunlight so that they glitter in just the right way. They are also used to help cool the air flowing around the gardens in the hot summer months.
One of my favorite Japanese-style fountains is using bamboo as a pipe for the water to trickle through. It’s such a simple yet beautiful material, and using it keeps the look of the fountain natural. It also makes your fountain almost musical as the water gurgles and plops through the hollow stem.
Water will always attract plenty of thirsty critters to your garden. The great thing about fountains is that birds and animals can hear the trickle of the water from further away and will be able to find it easily.
The free-flowing water is also likely to be much cleaner than still birdbaths, with fewer bacteria and algae build-up. So it will be a healthier drinking option for the wildlife that visits your garden.
A few tips I’d recommend if you want your fountain to be a haven for wildlife are:
- Make sure the ‘bowl’ of your fountain is out of reach of your own pets. Cats in particular may not want to be best buddies with your wild visitors!
- Think about placing a few rocks or branches in the fountain to provide a shallow landing area for birds and insects to rest on while they drink.
- Grow some suitable plants in the area, so that frogs and other small amphibians will have shelter to hide out.
Suppose you consider building a wildlife pond in your garden. I have a video showing how to build a wildlife pond in the garden. Watch it below.
Solar Powered Fountain
There is something wonderful in knowing that your beautiful water feature runs purely on the power of the sun!
You’re here because you love your garden. And if you love your garden, there’s a good chance you care about our planet too!
More and more gardeners are switching their outdoor mechanisms, like lights and pumps, from electrical to solar-powered. Solar technology is improving fast, and there are advantages to both the environment and you as a gardener if you opt for a solar fountain.
- Cheaper in the long-term, as you will save on electrical bills when running your fountain pump.
- Safer than using electricity, especially if you live in a home with young children or pets, who may take an interest in any cables they find in the garden!
- Obviously, better for the environment.
- You have the option of moving your fountain, or letting it float, as you won’t be restricted by wires.
If you’re short of space in your garden, you can still enjoy the presence of a cool, calming water feature. Wall fountains can be the ideal solution for smaller yards. As the name suggests, your fountain will be flush with your garden wall so that you will conserve the middle of your space for other projects.
Wall fountains are available in many styles, ranging from self-contained units that need to be plugged into more elaborate designs that integrate into the stone of your existing wall.
I love wall fountains, as they give the impression that you have a hidden spring or well behind your wall, and the water is bubbling mysteriously out of the darkness!
A self-contained fountain is another great space saver. By self-contained, all the fountain parts, including the pump and pipe-work, are contained within the structure itself.
This type of fountain also gives you a bit more wiggle room with where you want to place it. There is no need for a separate pond or reservoir, as self-contained fountains have their own bowls to catch the water.
Swimming Pool Fountain
We’ve looked at the sleek simplicity of self-contained and wall fountains, but perhaps it’s something altogether more fun that you have in mind!
If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, a swimming pool fountain is not only very cool to look at but great to play in!
There are many options, from floating to side-anchored, and most of them are relatively easy to install, as they work with the existing pumps and jets in your pool.
Admittedly, these are more toys than garden features, but they can cool your yard down in hot weather, and why not have some summer fun?
With the addition of some well-placed LED lighting, you can enjoy the sight of luminescent, cascading water long after the sunsets.
On warm summer evenings, there’s nothing so enjoyable as chilling out in your garden, listening to the sounds of nature humming around you.
I like to place a single LED bullet light into the bowl of my fountain to illuminate the whole pool. You could also position lights to show off features like rocks if you have a pond-based fountain or behind the cascade if you have a waterfall effect.
Lighting water features is nothing new, but LED lights are becoming more popular than their old-fashioned halogen cousins.
LEDs use around 90% less electricity, as well as lasting much longer than halogen. Beautiful and budget-friendly! Who could ask for more?
A disappearing fountain is just as it sounds – the water literally disappears into the ground, so there is no obvious reservoir or bowl.
If you have kids or pets, who will make a bee-line for water, this is a much safer option than a traditional fountain.
Another advantage of having no reservoir is that your fountain will require far less water for it to look effective.
Most fountains will provide a bit of entertainment and will look and sound lovely in your garden. But if you’re looking for the wow factor from your water feature, look no further than a dancing fountain!
These come pre-programmed and complete with remote control handsets, so you can choose the jets and arches that your fountain produces. If you’re going all-out, why not combine one of these with the LED lighting we talked about earlier in the post?
Cascading fountains are some of the loveliest options for your garden. Rather than a jet of water shooting out, a sheet of water slides over the edge of the structure into the reservoir below.
If you love the musicality that running water brings to your garden, a cascading fountain is a good choice – depending on the texture of the surface the water slips over, you can achieve a smooth hiss, or a rippling gurgle, as it hits the pool at the bottom.
Tabletop fountains are a fantastic focal point to take pride of place in your outdoor dining space. They give off a lovely ambiance to enjoy when you’re spending an evening outside with family and friends, as well as helping to keep the warm summer air at a nice cool temperature.
Tabletop fountains are available in many different styles and are usually miniature, giving you a water feature you can enjoy without compromising precious space in your garden.
A fountain is always going to add to the aesthetic effect of your garden. But if you want to go the extra mile and make it a real talking point, why not consider a sculptural fountain?
The possibilities are truly endless, and you can choose from a myriad of modern shapes, or more traditional sculptures, depending on your taste.
So use your imagination and decide what the right piece of art for your space will be.
When we think of fountains, the classical style is usually what springs to mind first. We might imagine the magnificent Trevi fountain of Rome, or the fountain of Apollo, at Versailles. This style often includes symbolic elements, like mythical figures or deities, and there is always a story or meaning behind the fountain.
Most classical fountains are found in the gardens of estates and castles, but there is no reason why we can’t scale them down a little to fit a more modest space!
A classical fountain adds a beautifully traditional feel to your garden and can work especially well in areas where you’ve chosen a more classical design for your planting.
Now for something completely different!
Perhaps the idea of maintaining water, pumps, and pipe-work doesn’t really inspire you. Or maybe you have young kids and don’t want to risk water and electricity being present in your garden at all.
You can still enjoy the effect of a cascade with a growing fountain!
This is essentially a fountain structure, but trailing plants create a stunning display instead of water tumbling over it.
Some of the best plants to use for this option are:
- Trailing annuals
- Trailing ivy
- Vinca Minor
Any plant that will add to the cascade effect can be included, so get creative! Just be sure to consider the growing conditions each variety will need before planting.
There is something magical about watching the rain as it falls and quenches the thirst of the earth. When you include a rain fountain in your space, you can enjoy that experience even when the sun shines!
These beautiful water curtains are very cooling during the hotter months and add the tranquil sound of gentle rain to your garden. It’s very tempting to walk straight through them after a few hours of gardening on a warm day!
If you’re looking to create a talking point in your garden, a vortex fountain may be just what you need!
The translucent, cylindrical body of water is impressive enough, but when you add a swirling vortex in the center, it is truly something to behold.
Despite looking really cool, vortex fountains are actually quite simple. The water is pumped up from the reservoir, into the cylinder, at a tangent. This is how the water is swirled into the vortex in the middle. The vortex will remain as long as the water is pumped in more rapidly than it drains out.
The great thing about these is that they suit any size restrictions. You can have a miniature table-top version or an imposing, sculptural focal point if you have the space and budget! Either way, a vortex fountain is sure to make an impact.
Stacked Stone Fountain
For centuries, humans in many different cultures have stacked rocks or stones on top of one another. Sometimes for learning and play and sometimes to symbolize balance.
Whatever the reason, there is something very relaxing and meditative about stacked stones.
When you add flowing water to the mix, this therapeutic effect is even greater.
Spherical fountains create symmetry in your garden. They are available in endless different materials and sizes and will be suitable for any space.
If you choose a granite or stone finish, you will achieve a more traditional effect. Or you can opt for bronze, stainless steel, or even glass for a more modern, artistic aesthetic.
If you have an existing pond that you want to revamp and make into a truly unique and special space, a fountain can make a huge difference.
We can all agree that fountains add beauty and ambiance to a space, but adding one to your pond can have other important benefits, too.
If you keep fish, a fountain can greatly improve their health as they need plenty of movement and aeration in their habitat.
The same can be said of most aquatic plants.
Suppose you want to renovate your fish pond. I have a video showing how to transform your pond into something spectacular. Watch it below.
A spiral creates an optical illusion of infinity, drawing the eye, and making your fountain seem much bigger than it really is.
I’ve seen this style of fountain on a grand scale in public spaces and peoples’ gardens, made from things as inventive as an up-cycled motor coil!
Whatever size you opt for, a spiral fountain will make an impact.
At Simplify Gardening, we love nothing more than getting stuck into a project! So here’s one of my favorite DIY methods for creating a beautiful fountain for your garden.
I’ve gone for a simple, tiered effect, using three different sizes of pots. This is a pretty easy project, and you may have a lot of the materials in your shed already. If you’re lucky, you may need to spring for a pump to build your fountain around!
You can also scale it up or down and play with the texture and color of your pots, to suit the look of your garden.
Around 2 hours for construction, a day or two to wait for the sealant to dry.
What You’ll Need:
- Fountain pump
- Hose pipe or tubing to fit your pump
- 3 pots, ranging in size from small to large. As you’ll be drilling holes in these, it’s best to use plastic, or stone-effect versions.
- A drill and drill-bit
- A few medium sized rocks
- A couple of bricks, or blocks to support the two smaller pots.
- Decorative slate or gravel (or you could use pebbles or sea glass you’ve salvaged)
- Clear waterproof silicone sealant
Setting Up Your Fountain Structure:
Set down your largest pot where you want the fountain to be and place one of the support blocks in the bottom, surrounded by a couple of the rocks, to provide ballast. Make sure to leave room in your base pot for the pump to rest.
Drill a hole in the large pot where you need the pump plug to fit through. You’ll use your sealant to waterproof this later.
Place the medium pot on top of the support block and drill a hole near the base, just large enough to fit the tubing through.
Connect your pump and tubing, then feed the tubing through the hole in your medium pot.
Place a second support block in the center of the medium pot, add more rocks for ballast, then place your smallest pot on top of the support block.
Again, drill a small tubing hole near the base of the smallest pot as you can and feed the tubing through. Wait until last to trim the tubing, so you can be sure to get just the right placing for the water bubbling out (if the tubing is just below the surface of the water, you’ll get the best, bubbliest effect!)
Once water is flowing, the tubing will want to move, so you can use a few rocks to keep it in the right spot.
Now, your fountain is constructed, you can waterproof the pump and tubing holes from the outside using your sealant. Be sure to follow the instructions on drying time, specific to the brand you’ve chosen.
While you’re waiting for the sealant to dry, why not forage around to find some pretty stones, slate, shells, or whatever you like to place inside your pots for decoration. If you have kids, they’ll enjoy helping with this part, and they can even hand-paint some stone with waterproof paints to sink into your fountain.
Once your sealant is dry, add your decorative rocks (making sure you don’t obstruct the pump in the base pot). All that’s left to do now is add water, plug in your pump, and enjoy your very own, budget-friendly fountain!
Conclusion on 20 best garden fountain ideas
I hope this post has given you plenty of inspiration for choosing a cooling, tranquil fountain for your garden. Whether you opt for a ready-made version or have a go at making one yourself, you have a tonne of exciting options to choose from!
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