Installing a koi pond in your backyard can take your garden to the next level. Water features bring serenity, style, and a luxurious feel to your open spaces. But, how does a fountain even work? What type of maintenance should you be wary of?
Before you litter your front yard with ponds, fountains, and other pool and landscaping accessories, have a read through this article for tips, tricks, things to avoid, and things to definitely try out.
You don’t need to connect every aquatic feature to your water main. Most features available in retail stores have their own supply nowadays. You just need to top them off now and again.
If the feature has moving water, like a fountain, you will most probably have to install a water pump to go with it. Some are solar powered, so they are easier to install if the conditions allow them. Here, we must advise you to hire a professional to help you install. Water and electricity don’t mix, and you can cause major casualties if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
Most moving water features work on a similar principle. There is an underground reservoir (or sump) that holds an ample amount of water. The pump then brings the water up to the feature. After the flow and sprinkle dazzles your neighbors, gravity does its thing, and the excess water is stored back in the sump.
There’s one more thing to consider, namely the running costs. The price of your water feature isn’t just the face value at the store. The water supply also greatly affects the cost of your water feature. Before you buy that huge, spewing fountain, consider how much it will run up your electrical bill.
A trickling stream hitting a hard concrete surface is not the most pleasant sound in the world, to say the least. If you happen to hear it from your study overlooking the backyard, it may even interfere with your workflow, distract you and make you take more bathroom breaks than usual.
On the other hand, a huge stream of water rushing into a marble fixture may be too overwhelming and dominant. It may look nice on Instagram stories, but only if the sound is turned off.
Whatever your choice ends up being, make sure you can live with the sound. Otherwise, you end up with a fountain that you prefer turned off. You might as well invest in a nice statue, in that case.
The Cleaning Process
A garden water feature usually sits exposed to the elements. Rain, sleet, and snow leave their marks, as well as vegetation and the local fauna. A cleaning routine is mandatory. So ask yourself the following questions.
Does the feature have many tiny crevices and hidden surfaces that are hard to attack with a brush and sponge? How often will you need to clean it? Does the material stain easily, and if so, is it a noble patina, or do the esthetics of it degenerate? Do I have the necessary equipment to deal with the challenges of cleaning my water feature?
Make sure to consult a landscaper on how to dismantle the feature in order to drain it and clean every part of it, especially the sump. Freezing temperatures and fountains, for example, don’t mix.
Freezing conditions can wreak havoc on your water features if they are not properly drained in time, especially the ones that have electrical water pumps.
To properly prepare for the winter, drain all of your water features before freezing temperatures arrive and don’t change the water before spring time. This is a perfect opportunity to dismantle the water pump and give it a thorough rinse and clean. Consult the pump’s manufacturer on the proper cleaning procedures.
Here’s a helpful trick – a tennis ball in a fountain bowl will move the water around, preventing it from freezing in mild frost conditions.
A grandiose fountain statue in a greco-roman style with hundreds of faucets spewing water screams to be a centerpiece of a garden. But there could only be one of those in a single location, and even then, it’s easy to overdo it and come off as tacky or tasteless.
Most water features, however, are small and unassuming. They help your garden feel like a real oasis, with hidden cascades and sprouts sprinkled haphazardly. If your water feature is surrounded by vegetation, it’s bound to be less obnoxious and contribute to the atmosphere without dominating it.
In any case, always consider what’s above your water feature. A deciduous tree will shed its canopy directly into your fountain’s drain and make maintaining it a daily and tedious chore.
Consider the overarching style
Nothing screams poor taste like garden elements that don’t match in style. A modern, steel or glass feature looks good in any style of garden. However, traditional style water elements don’t mesh well with more modern styles of yard decoration.
If you’re unsure about what any of this means, hiring a landscaping artist may be your safest bet to save face, along with a chunk of change. Because if you choose wrong, you’ll have to replace the feature, which may end up costing you more than just hiring a person who knows what they’re doing and whose style you trust.
Lighting the water
Using lighting features to enhance the effect of cascading water is a surefire way to amaze your guests and entice envy from your neighbors. Again, it’s easy to go overboard with the lightshow and create a kitsch atrocity.
If you don’t have confidence you can balance on the fine line between tasteful and overdone, don’t be afraid to hire a professional to guide you through the process.
Of course, when it comes to installing lights in a fountain, obviously safety precautions come first. Mixing water and electricity haphazardly is a criminally bad idea. We’d have to advise to definitely delegate the task to a professional that can make sure everything is properly and safely installed.
Children and safety
A backyard is a toddler’s paradise. Of course, children should always be supervised, but the little rascals use every lapse in attention to get lost. Unfortunately, sometimes a half a minute or so is enough for a tragedy.
If you have small children playing in your yard, your safest bet is to drain the water features, especially ponds and other static features. Make sure that there is no bare wiring in any of the lighting features or on the water pump in the fountains.
Some people say – go big or go home. That may be the case when you’re playing poker, and you’re trying to lose the home you don’t want to go to. When water features are in question, smaller is better.
Smaller features are much easier to maintain, they’re less expensive, they generally fit in nicer, and pose a lesser safety hazard.
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of choices – don’t be too proud to hire a landscaping artist. And whatever you do, don’t throw away the maintenance manual, lest your dazzling new water fountain be ruined by some simple freezing water.