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Installing Fountains and Water Features

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 22 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
Fountain Cascade Stand-alone Feature

With modern liner materials and the reliability of today’s pumps it has never been easier to provide running water in the garden and the range of water features, fountain centrepieces and ornaments readily available at garden centres and other outlets leaves you spoilt for choice. Whatever you choose – fountain, cascade or stand-alone feature – installing it is seldom likely to be a particularly difficult job, but like many aspects of water-gardening, a little bit of forethought goes a long way.With most of the self-contained, stand-alone types of water feature – ranging from bubble fountains, pebble bowls and pots through to free-standing wall fountains and elaborately tiered fountains – the planning stage is largely confined to deciding where you want it. Then it is simply a question of a little self assembly, filling it with water and switching it on. However, for fountains, cascades and waterfalls as part of a pond, there is a little more work to be done.

Adding a Fountain

Although it is generally easier to fit a fountain at the same time as the pond is being built, it is perfectly possible – if a little more fiddly – to add one later. Most of the suitable pumps need an electricity supply, so some thought will have to be given as to how best to achieve this safely – though the latest generation of solar powered pumps obviously make very short work of this part of the job! Where the pump is to be located also needs a bit of careful consideration, since it will be necessary to get at it, from time to time, for a spot of routine maintenance. Most pumps have a filter fitted to prevent solid material being sucked in; eventually this will require cleaning to keep the water flowing properly and a pump that is not easily accessible can turn this simple task into a major undertaking. For a small pond, it may only really be possible to position the pump in the middle, where the water is deepest and have the fountain immediately above. However, this would not be a particularly convenient arrangement in a larger pond – locating it nearer to one edge and connecting it to the fountain via a length of hosepipe would make more sense.

If a statue or ornament is to form the centre-piece of the fountain, if possible, choosing one which has a purpose-made nozzle built-in will simplify things enormously. The statue will need to be supported at the right height above the pond floor on columns of bricks or in some other suitable way. If the fountain is a substantial one, great care will obviously need to be taken to ensure that it and its supports are safe and stable, to avoid any mishaps later.

Cascades and Waterfalls

The basic idea is very simple – water is pumped from the pond up to a smaller collecting pool and then flows back into the pond – either along a series of interlocking steps, or from a single waterfall. Creating features of this kind usually requires a bit of landscaping to get the necessary height and involves using either small pre-formed units or some flexible liner.

From a practical point of view, once the earthworks have been made – remembering to bury a suitable amount of hose – and the “bowls” formed, the rest is very much like fitting a fountain, so the same questions of pump accessibility, electrical supply and convenience once again apply.


Water and electricity are not natural partners, so a bit of professional advice from a qualified electrician is always a good idea – particularly if there is any doubt in your mind about how best to proceed. Any connections, of course, need to be made with properly approved outdoor, waterproof junctions, the whole thing protected with a residual current device (RCD) and if the supply cable is to run under the soil on its way to the pond, lay it inside a suitable pipe for protection.

Water features add so much to a garden and give such a big return for a relatively small amount of work. Whether it is a fountain of cascade for a pond, or simply a stand-alone fountain, the sight and sound of running water is hard to beat as a way of making even the best of gardens that extra bit special.

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