How to Choose a Fountain for Your Family Garden

The sound of running water is not only relaxing but extremely refreshing. The play of light on the surface of a pond, the flash of colour and sparkle as sunlight catches a splash of spray from a fountain, all add an inimitable quality which can lift a garden from being merely pleasant to being spectacular.

The Moors in Spain understood these qualities. In the Alhamhra garden in Granada, there are numerous pools, fountains and rills and the air is tilled with the musical sound of water. Even if you donˇŻt have such grand plans, you can still use water to great effect.

Fountains

If you want the sound of water but do not want to bother with plants then a freestanding fountain may be the answer. These should not be sited alone on a lawn or terrace, but set amidst a sea of ferns or other foliage where they will look extremely striking. The wide range of designs, from traditional Victorian and Edwardian to contemporary stone and terracotta fountains, means that it is easy to find the right one to suit you and the style of your garden.

garden fountain How to Choose a Fountain for Your Family Garden

Wall fountains are attractive features, which look as good in modern urban gardens as in formal period settings. Mounted on a wall or brick plinth, they mostly consist of an all-in-one unit made up of a decorative mask which spouts water into a bowl. The water is pumped back up to the fountain via a plastic tube by a small unit hidden within the mask.

It is also possible to buy the elements separately and fit them together as you wish. This allows you to alter the distance between the water spout and bowl, which will affect the sound – the further away the bowl is from the spout the louder the sound of the water.

You can choose from a wide range of styles including fish, gargoyle or animal head masks in terracotta, stone, lead or even fibreglass, with the water spout coming out of the mask’s mouth. Any sort of proportionately sized container can be used to capture the water. Shallow stone shells, half barrels and pithoi all work well, and for extra safety, fill the container to the top with pebbles. Even 5cm/2in of water depth can be lethal to a small child.

The safest water features of all are bubble fountains. These consist of a container completely filled with large pebbles. Beneath the pebbles is a hidden pump and a reservoir of water, into which a plastic tube is placed. This is fed through the pebbles for water to bubble out. The tiny jet of water should be just strong enough to keep the pebbles glistening wet – a cooling treat for hot, little, bare feet. But do bear in mind that mischievous children may want to pick out all the pebbles and chuck them around the garden.


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