So you want to build a beautiful fountain in your back yard. What do you actually need to do? Hiring a contractor is too expensive but this is definitely something that you can do all on your own.
Water features are able to recycle the water that’s in them indefinitely, meaning that they do not need a water supply to keep functioning. As long as you check the water levels frequently, it isn’t a problem to fill up the feature with water once and then let it run.
Why does this work? It certainly seems like even simple fountains should run out of water eventually. What’s going on?
The Magic of Pumps
Not only can pumps make you taller, but they can also be used to take water from a pool and move it to another place. Pumps use an impeller to suck up the water in a pool and transport it to the other end of the pump, where it is ejected.
This is the science that allows fountains to function in the first place, and since all the water that the pump needs to work is the water that’s already in the system there’s no need for the feature to have an additional source of water.
In fact, you should rarely need to add more water to your water feature as long as you don’t think that anything is drinking from it. Water will evaporate pretty slowly, and the fountain will function as long as the water level is above the pumps intake.
Actually, in a lot of places it’s a bad idea to hook up your water feature to your home’s water source, since a lot of places treat their water with chemicals that can be harmful to fountains.
If you know that your water is treated with chemicals like chlorine, you should fill your fountain with water from another source as long as it’s available. You could even get a water filter and then fill the fountain using tap water.
Outdoor features have an additional layer of complication, since rain, dry whether, and sneaky animals could all have an effect on the water level of your pump. In the case of fountains particularly, birds often take a liking to the running water.
In this situation, it’s important to keep your eye on the weather as well as the local wildlife to see what might be affecting the water level. You may need to invest some time and money into keeping things away, or add an extra bucket of water or two each week. Whatever feels appropriate.
Ponds don’t tend to lose nearly as much water as fountains do, meaning that you should very rarely need to add more unless they are fairly wide and shallow.
Some, especially large features, are too difficult to fill with a hose. In this case, the feature may need to be hooked up to the home’s water source.
Indoor water features don’t tend to be very big, meaning that they don’t tend to need very much water at all. That does also mean that if it doesn’t take that big of an accident to drain them completely. Fortunately, they can easily be refilled at your sink.
Larger indoor features aren’t nearly as likely to need to be refilled as other water features. You can help this by keeping the room the feature is in relatively cool and by not letting children or pets play in it.
How to Keep Water in Your Fountain
If you’re relying on your fountain to retain its water, there are a few steps you can tape to makes certain that it will be able to do that at least a little bit.
Make Sure It’s Even
If your fountain is on uneven ground, it will splash and water will go everywhere. Whether your fountain is indoors or out, this is a bad thing since it means your fountain will need refilling ore often.
Solve this problem before it occurs by planning ahead while preparing to install your fountain. If you’re bringing home an indoor fountain or a tabletop fountain, make sure the spot you plan to put it is even enough for you to put it there easily.
Decrease The Pump Pressure
The higher the fountain sends the water into the air the more likely it will be to splash and get water everywhere. Most pumps have a dial that allows you to decrease the pressure without any actual effort. However, if even the pumps lowest setting isn’t low enough for you, you can always install a flow restrictor to solve the problem.
Move Your Plants
If your plants are using the fountain as a water source, the amount of water in your fountain will decrease. Lucky for you, the plants won’t really fight back if you just pick them up and carry them somewhere else.
Filling Features With… What?
Because water features don’t technically need a source, you could technically fill them with anything that’s at least mostly water. Unfortunately, filling a water feature with molten chocolate would require a lot of modding to the pump that you have to account for the qualities of the new fluid.
However, many exciting liquids have extremely similar qualities to water. You could, for instance, fill up your fountain with milk, grape soda, or orange juice.
Doing this would drastically reduce the life span of your water feature, since all of those liquids are slightly acidic and could potentially damage the more vulnerable parts of the pump system. It would also be incredibly messy, and it would definitely attract bugs, and be hugely unsanitary for anyone who actually drank out of the feature.
In fact, this would be an absolutely terrible idea. But in case you ever wondered how the rich people in the movies could get those flashy non-water fountains, now you know.
When to Attach a Water Supply
Some fountains are a lot easier to fill if you attach them to a water supply. This purely depends on size and whether or not you want to put in the work to set up a recycling pump. Fountains with large, shallow ponds at the base will dry up very quickly, and so if you don’t hook them up to a water supply they’ll take a lot of babysitting it keep running.
Fountains with very narrow ponds will also have trouble recycling their water, since the pump needs there to be excess water for it to run safely. These fountains will also likely need to be attached to a water source in order to keep them running effectively.
However, if you have a choice between a fountain that needs a water supply and one that doesn’t yous should choose the fountain that doesn’t.
The reason for this is that if a fountain is drawing water from the public water supply constantly and a leak develops somewhere along the piping system, you’ll likely never know. This can lead to ridiculously high water bills.
Hooking up your fountain so that it recycles its water is the best way to mitigate the damage that it’s doing to the world, so really it’s the least you can do.
Fountains and Wildlife
There is one more big advantage to having a small fountain that doesn’t need a water supply, and it is that the small kind of fountain is more likely to attract wildlife such as birds and frogs. It just feels good to provide fresh, easily accessible water for the local wildlife and it only takes a little bit of effort to make your fountain animal-friendly.
Obviously wildlife will enjoy ponds and fountains of any size, but they tend to prefer the ones that closer to a medium size than a huge one. If you live seeing birds and other animals in your yard, consider taking that into account while planning your fountain.
Creatures of all sorts love for fountains to have relatively rough surfaces, sloped edges, and relatively shallow water, and birds are especially good at finding places that fit their fancy. This means that if you set up your fountain to be attractive to birds, they will come and they will chill in your fountain.
However, you will need to be sure that your fountain’s filtration system is ready to handle the byproducts that animals tend to make. Keeping your fountain safe for animals will probably take significant effort on your part as well, to prevent pumps from clogging or filters from being damaged.
Cleaning the filter once a week is probably a good idea anyways though, and if you aren’t ready to clean your fountain maybe you aren’t ready to own one quite yet.