An outdoor fountain can turn a humdrum outdoor living space into an inviting and relaxing area. Choosing the right fountain for your landscaping décor is a combination of personal preference and practicality. Knowing these 10 points about outdoor fountains can help you decide on which fountain is the best option for your project.

Source of power

Outdoor fountains have a variety of power options with the two most common being hardwired and solar powered. A hardwired fountains draws on an electric power source to function. In most areas, only a licensed electrician can install a hardwired outdoor fountain since it is considered an addition to your home’s electrical grid. Solar powered outdoor fountains are fairly popular because they don’t require hardwiring to your home’s electrical supply. Solar panels on these fountains provide enough power for the pump to function in normal conditions.

Source of water

Most outdoor fountains are connected to a home’s water supply. These fountains have a continuous supply of water so as long as the water is turned on, they won’t go dry. There are some smaller fountains that can be filled using a water hose without the need for a permanent connection. Generally, fountains that can be filled with a hose use a pump that re-circulates water through the fountain on a continuous basis. These fountains must be checked periodically to ensure they have a sufficient amount of water.

Different finishes

The finish of the fountain makes a big difference in the way the fountain looks and the care it needs. Concrete and stone fountains usually don’t require as much care as some others. Stone fountains tend to look a little more natural and might blend into the surroundings. Bronze and copper fountains provide a nice contrast to natural outdoor settings. These can require a little more care than other finishes. Ultimately, the finish is a primarily aesthetic consideration that requires you to take the surrounding area into account.

Lighting options

You want your fountain to be seen and enjoyed. If you plan on spending time in the yard when it is dark outside, lighting options can help you to place a focus on the fountain. While some fountains have lights included, it is also possible to place lights around the fountain. If you think white lights are too harsh for the relaxing atmosphere you are creating in your yard, choose colored lights. Amber lights are often considered soothing. Multicolored lights might provide a fun element.

Location matters

The location of the fountain is one of the most important choices you have to make. Larger fountains shouldn’t be placed against anything because you will need full access to the entire fountain. Smaller fountains shouldn’t be placed in areas that have greenery or other objects that might block them. If the fountain requires a constant water supply or a hardwired energy source, taking the location of water lines and electrical connections into consideration is critical.

Complementary décor

Fountains can stand alone in your outdoor living space; however, most people opt to dress up the area with complementary décor. A paved path leading to the fountain or a water feature around the fountain are two possible options to consider. Planting flowers or ground cover around the fountain helps to add beauty to a stand-alone fountain.

Water efficiency

The City of San Diego allows residents to use outdoor decorative fountains during periods of water restriction if the fountain has a re-circulating pump. Outdoor fountains that have re-circulating pumps continue to use the same water until the water has to be drained for cleaning or until it evaporates and needs to be refilled. Not only does this save water, it can also help you to keep control of your water bill since the fountain isn’t constantly using water.

Cleaning a fountain

All water fountains have to be cleaned periodically. Having a scummy layer of algae can make your fountain look bad. Some fountains have a cleaning cycle that helps to keep them clean. Even if there is a cleaning cycle, you should still drain the fountain and wipe it down. Each fountain manufacturer has guidelines for cleaning the fountains they produce. Following those directions can help you keep your fountain in tip-top shape.

Winter care

People who are in locations that experience freezing temperatures during the winter months will need to care for their fountain to prevent cracking when the water freezes. Almost all fountains should be drained before the first deep freeze. If the fountain is connected to the home’s water supply, a shutoff valve needs to be installed so you can turn the water off to prevent frozen pipes. Some people opt to cover the fountain during the winter months. If the fountain is pointed or has elaborate decorative accents, be sure that snow and ice weight won’t put pressure on those areas if it is covered.

Special considerations

If the outdoor fountain you purchase needs to be hardwired or connected to the water supply, you might need to get a permit. Contacting the building code enforcement authority in your area is the most effective way to determine if a permit is needed. You should also be aware of any local water restrictions since those can affect how much water you can use for your fountain and how often you can fill it or add more water to it. Knowing how any location regulations, ordinances, or restrictions will affect you using your fountain can help you plan your purchase. Sources: http://www.sandiego.gov/water/conservation/drought/prohibitions.shtml http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20605450_21175721,00.html http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/great-ideas-fountains http://depositphotos.com/search/outdoor-fountain.html?5o4hoq&qview=2189049