So many people tell us they’d love to have a water feature, but they just don’t have the space – or the time for maintenance. The good news is that fountains offer the soothing sights and sounds of water in a small footprint. You get the peace and pizazz of a larger water feature but don’t need the real estate. And if you choose your fountain wisely, maintenance is a breeze.
At Good Earth Water Gardens, we work with homeowners all around the KC metro. Some have tons of space for an expansive koi pond. And others want to make the most of an entrance area or intimate patio. Fountains can make a big impact in these small spaces. Here’s the information that we share with our clients.
Low-Maintenance Fountain #1: Bubbling Boulder
Water doesn’t necessarily shoot out of boulders in nature. But a bubbling boulder incorporates natural stone and water and doggone it, it looks so cool. This type of fountain adds movement and sound to a landscape. And if you already have a rock you like? Chances are we can turn it into a bubbling fountain.
Bubbling boulders are made of a stone that’s cored with a special drill. This boulder is then placed on an underground reservoir. We top this reservoir with decorative gravel and perhaps some smaller boulders, and a pump and plumbing line connect the reservoir and the stone. The end result is a geyser effect, with water shooting out of the cored hole and cascading down multiple sides of the boulder.
We can also core multiple holes in the same boulder, or use multiple boulders to create a more substantial water feature. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
Keep in mind: When water splashes, it mixes with air and creates a light foaming effect. The water is much more visible on darker stone versus lighter stone. That’s why we recommend selecting a boulder that’s darker in color. This darker color will also disguise the algae film that will naturally grow on the stone. This patina can be scrubbed off and treated with algaecide, but it’s also less visible on a darker stone.
Low-Maintenance Fountain #2: Urns, Spheres, and Spillway Bowls
There’s a fountain that’s ideal for your space and style. Our manufacturer Aquascape offers an entire product line of fountains in many shapes and sizes. Whether you’re drawn to the Zen of spillway bowls, the grace of bubbling urns, or the drama of a spillway wall, there’s a durable and beautiful fountain for you.
Like bubbling boulders, these fountains sit atop an underground reservoir. That means the mechanics are hidden away so you can focus on the beauty and restful sounds of splashing water.
Keep in mind: You can turn just about anything into a fountain. We’ve seen it all: fire hydrants, whiskey barrels, bamboo spouts, and more. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We see many of these creative ideas lose their glory after just a few seasons. The outdoor elements of the Midwest don’t mess around and can cause irreparable damage. At Good Earth Water Gardens, we recommend sticking with materials that are made to be fountains.
Low-Maintenance Fountain #3: Small Pondless Waterfall
Waterfalls don’t have to start at the top of a hillside and cover a huge expanse. Small pondless waterfalls can take up about as much space as a regular fountain! Plus, these water features are always designed specifically for your unique space, so they’re sure to fit the area and your taste.
Like the other kinds of fountains, pondless waterfalls rest on top of an underground reservoir. As long as we can create a space deep enough for the reservoir, we can figure out a way to create a pondless waterfall. These water features provide more of a consistent sound of flowing water, whereas other fountains create dancing, splashing sounds.
Keep in mind: When installed correctly, small pondless waterfalls are pretty easy to care for. You can expect the same amount of maintenance that’s required for spillway bowls, bubbling boulders, and other fountains.
Bonus: The High-Maintenance Fountain You Don’t Want
We hate to badmouth a water feature, but there’s one style of fountain that can be a real maintenance headache. So it’s only fair to talk about it.
The common three-tier concrete statuary fountain is a traditional favorite. It looks lovely, but the day-to-day care and long-term prognosis can be troubling:
• The water often needs to be refilled due to the small size of the lower bowl or reservoir.
• The gray or white color that’s common in these fountains means that the algae that grows on any fountain is quite apparent.
• The harsh chemicals like chlorine and bromine that are often used to treat the water in statuary fountains can deter birds and other wildlife from splashing in the water. These chemicals can also be harmful to the environment.
• In climates like Kansas City where freezing temperatures are the norm, these fountains need to be properly shut down before winter. If not, the concrete will absorb water, crack, and begin to disintegrate.
Keep in mind: We all like things that are solidly built. But because statuary fountains are made of concrete, they’re heavy. Real heavy. Even though they’re typically built in sections, the weight of the sections can make simple tasks difficult. Changing a pump could require most of the fountain to be taken apart, a job that requires many strong backs. And one wrong move can lead to irreparable damage – to the people and the fountain.
Find the Fountain That’s Perfect for Your Yard
Want to learn more about natural fountains? Good Earth Water Gardens is here to help. Check out our own Will Patrick discussing the benefits of these water features.
When you’re ready to discuss your options, give us a call at (816) 720-7577. We love helping Kansas City-area homeowners create the outdoor environments of their dreams.