How to Find the Best Outdoor Wall Fountain
Outdoor Fountain Pricing Fluctuates Throughout the Year
If you're thinking about purchasing an outdoor fountain for your home, there are many factors to consider but also abundant choices available. This article recounts our experience researching, purchasing and maintaining our first and subsequent outdoor fountains. While my experience is primarily with standing wall fountains, this information is really applicable to any outdoor fountain.
I last updated this in Sept. 2016. The prices for fountains in around February tend to be at the lowest point they'll reach in an annual cycle. These low prices generally will hold until early spring. Then, in early spring suppliers are busy trying to make room for the upcoming season's new models. About a month or two later (roughly by May,) prices rise to their peak highs for the season.
The photo above is from Overstock.com. It's the picture from the page of their website where I found our 2nd fountain. At that time it became unavailable shortly after we purchased it. But more recently I discovered it again.
Our 2nd Standing Wall Fountain (Purchased in 2012)
I Never Seem To Actually Take Advantage of The Seasonal Price Fluctuations
Had I known or been thinking, I would have waited to get our new fountain until the February through early April timeframe. What prevents me from doing this? There are really 2 main reasons.
- The first is that oftentimes I don't even know that we need a new fountain until later in spring when my husband informs me that our fountain doesn't look good and asks me what I think we should do about it!
- The 2nd is that even if I do know in advance that we'll need to replace our fountain, by the time February arrives, I'm much more preoccupied with figuring out how to get somewhere warm for a brief respite from our very long winters, than I am with what our yard may look like next summer.
Warning: Those Looking For A Step-By-Step Guide Probably Won't Find it Here
This is an article about my personal journey to find the best outdoor fountain for our home! As it turns out, this is really an ongoing process for us, and one that never really ends. Therefore, if you're seeking a quick list of steps, there are probably other blogs more suited for that objective. My approach aims to entertain while it informs.
My Childhood Facination with Fountains
Most of my favorite childhood haunts had a water feature of some kind.
The park surrounding our local YMCA (where all the kids in my hometown hung out) had a huge pond with a fountain. Our public library had the coolest little babbling brook with stepping stones where we would play as we waited for someone to pick us up from our regular Saturday morning story hour. Every Saturday we'd compete to see who could jump successfully from one stone to the next without falling in. Without fail, every Saturday, my little brother would slip, fall in, and get soaking wet in the brief few minutes before our Mom arrived to pick us up. (You don't even want to know about his attempts to "float" like Mary Poppins with an umbrella!) Even at my Dad's office, there was a huge indoor pond in the main lobby, with goldfish, trees, birds and water flowing tranquilly from various strategic points...it was nirvana. We all loved to visit him at work and did so as often as we could. So it was no surprise when we got our first house that I pondered for quite some time how we could incorporate a fountain into our lives without it looking pretentious or cheesy.
Our First Standing Wall Fountain | Pump & Water Tips
A probable site finally emerged when we renovated our tiny garage into living space, built a new, more functional garage, and added a terraced area outside the newly created "side" door...which in reality, was actually on the front side of our house, but was a distance away from the main front door. A new driveway was situated in close proximity to that door, and the space became everyone's favorite entrance and demanded something nice and welcoming. After years of wandering around our local garden center's fountain display, I was finally in a position to seriously consider which type of fountain would best fit in our space. After a couple weeks of research and tons of deliberation we chose a stone wall fountain that we intended to locate right next to the double doors of our new "side" entrance.
Our garden center ordered the fountain we chose because they didn't have much in the way of wall fountains. But a few short weeks later, it arrived and they delivered it for us because we realized that we couldn't manage moving the 1000+ lb fixture by ourselves. It didn't look too hard to put together, and my husband managed to get it into position and assembled in a couple of hours. But we realized that we had failed to procure a pump...assuming I suppose that a pump would come with it. So another trip to the garden center to figure out the correct pump. Luckily that was in stock, and we were able to install it and get it up and running the same day.
We were so delighted with our purchase and that we kept the doors open during the days and early evenings so we could listen to the tranquil water flowing (we had screen doors which allowed us to do this). But after a day or 2 we noticed a couple of problems. The water was getting kind of scummy looking and it seemed like the water level was receding at a very rapid pace.
Back to the garden center we went and got a water conditioner to keep the water clear. The advice they gave us was to put more water in when the level became so low that the plumb started to get louder. Unfortunately that ended up belong a daily occurrence, and it resulted in becoming a chore we assigned to the kids. To remind them (really to remind us to nag them) to refill it every day, we kept a very large pitcher right inside the door. That did work to remind us...but it wasn't great at reminding the kids, so ultimately we did the refilling ourselves...which seemed far easier than nagging in the long run.
After a couple of weeks we hit upon the idea of installing a timer so that the pump would only operate during the hours that people would be around to enjoy it. We set it to stop around midnite and to startup again around 7:00 am. That helped with the rapid evaporation quite a bit and we ended up having to refill it about every three days. As we learned more about fountains, we discovered that wall fountains do generally require a lot more refilling due to their design, which usually includes a relatively small basin in proportion to the overall size of the entire fountain. Our 1st fountain was 70" tall, 30" wide and 23" deep.
It's important to not let the water level become so low that the pump has nothing to pump, because this burns out your pump motor. We did this at least once a year our first few years, and oftentimes more frequently. Either we'd all get busy for a couple of days and no one would remember to put water in the fountain, or we'd leave to go out of town and forget to turn the timer off completely, which in turn would keep the pump pumping away on it's regular cycle while we were gone. In as little time as a 4 day weekend, we could burn out a motor if the fountain wasn't freshly refilled right before we left and it was really hot outside.
The good news is that pumps aren't very expensive. The bad news is that sometimes getting a replacement can take longer than you'd think...perhaps a week or two if no one has them in stock locally. But during that time frame you don't get to enjoy listening to your fountain or watching the cool wildlife it attracts. It's weird but fountains really are sort of addicting!
One great idea would be to get the replacement pump before you actually burn out the present one...but that would be too logical for most guys right? And they are the ones generally who do the pump buying and replacing.
The Final Days for our First Fountain
This photo doesn't really make our 1st fountain look all that bad at the end of it's useful life, but believe me when I tell you that it actually looked much worse in person than it does on this picture!
We enjoyed this fountain for many years...I'm guessing at least 10 years. But due to our inexperience we made some mistakes which probably shortened the overall life of our fountain. In the end, my husband didn't see the need to replace it (do they ever?) But I absolutely did! The number of patched cracks were increasing rapidly and our DIY patch job wasn't great! The fountain was no longer an item of beauty but rather any eyesore.
Thus began my research for a new fountain. As I continued to learn I began writing this article. So this article began as just my research notes. It morphed into my first article when I happened upon some other great ones written by bloggers at a blogging community called Squidoo. Squidoo no longer exists, but I found that I loved writing online help articles. So I continue to keep this information updated for myself, since we seem to find ourselves in the position of researching new fountains every few years, as well as for my readers...especially those who are first time fountain owners.
I felt that I should learn from my experience and not get a stone fountain again...but that left me wondering what material would be best? There are ton's of "simulated" stone fountains available now, as well as fountains that are made from various types of metals and even wood!
Real Stone Fountains Require a Higher Degree of Upkeep IMHO
I learned why covering a stone fountain is so important. It's because stone is so porous that water seeps into the pores. When water freezes it expands and causes cracking. So if you cover the fountain up after it's emptied and really dry, with something like an outdoor tarp, you can prevent a lot of that. But then you have this unsightly blue plastic tarp to look at for half of the yea. In the end, I figured that we could do better.
Our 2nd Fountain
In 2012 We Purchased Our 2nd Fountain
After extensive research, we decided to get one made out of a resin material with a simulated bronze look to it. The advantages of this approach were that it was much lighter, therefore shipping costs would not be prohibitive, and that my husband could install it alone. In addition, we were hoping to not have similar issues with cracking.
The one that we decided upon we purchased from Overstock.com, which is now a subsidiary of Sears. It was around $350, including the pump, and although it was light-weight, we felt that when it was filled with water, we wouldn't have to worry about stability issues. It was a discontinued model and became unavailable shortly after we purhased it, which is why I never included a link to it in the article. But now, in 2015, I just found it again at Lamps Plus, fo the same price we paid 3 years ago. So further down I'll add a link to where it can be purchased.
We were right in our guess that it the material it was made of would be a better one for us to manage. It was both easy to setup and was stable during periods of high winds, as long as there was water in it. It weathered well too.
At first, the only problem that we had with it involved the pump. We left for a 4 day weekend trip and when we returned the pump had stopped running, even though the water level was still good. We thought that perhaps it was just a cheap pump and that it had already burnt out. When my husband took the pump out to bring along with him while he lookEd for a replacement, he discovered that it was actually still functioning, but had become clogged. Once he cleaned the pump out it worked again, but then it became clogged again every few days. We figured out that the filter on the pump was very small, which is why it didn't take much for it to become clogged again. So ultimately we replaced the pump with one having a much larger filter. This was a very easy thing to do. After that was accomplished we didn't have any more problems for a while.
Our Research Process in 2015
We just ordered a new fountain and I will outline our purchase rational once we've received it. I figure that I should make sure our logic is correct before I outline what we actually purchased this time and go into a lot of detail.
A Side By Side Comparison I Made to Help Us Decide | Our Fountain Short List in 2015
3 Years Later We Found Ourselves In The Position of Needing to Replace This Fountain Too
Again, our misfortune was completely due to 'operator error'. While we were correct that it's light weight would be easier to manage yet not problematic in terms of stability, we failed to properly protect it once we drained the water out of it one fall. I'm not entirely sure of the circumstances since that was my husbands department, but I think what happened was that it was blown over by heavy winds after it was drained but before he moved it into the garage for safe keeping during the winter. All that I know for sure is that when he showed me it this spring it had some major cracks that would be difficult to repair. So we decided to get a new one instead.
We loved so many aspects of this fountain that when I discovered we could get it again, we seriously considered doing that. But new times bring newer products and we found one that we like a little better instead. The one major feature our new fountain has is it includes a small light. We thought that it would look nice in the setting it will 'live' in and the accent light could actually provide some utility too on dark nights when we return home and have forgotten to turn on some outdoor lights prior to our leaving.
One Little Trick We Learned | Using water conditioners keep the water in our fountain clean and clear.
It's A Bit of A Balancing Act | How to Keep Your Fountain Water Clean & Clear
Fountain water will develop algae. If it's in a sunny location it's more prone to this problem. Rainwater will also cause more algae to grow. But, if you let rainwater fill the fountain up, you don't need to put water in yourself as often. Since water evaporates, and it does so faster during hot weather, there's a real incentive to let rain do some of the work for you by replenishing the water levels whenever possible. But this does cause algae to grow more rapidly.
We learned that there are products made to counter these effects. The one that we purchased is called 'Care Free Fountain Protector'. It's actually a water clarifier and it only takes a very tiny amount. So tiny in fact, that it's easy to put too much in. If you add too much however, the water will start to look sudsy. Actual soap suds start to form as the water hits the lower tier of the basin with enough to force to create them. So I put a few drops of this clarifier into the water every few weeks and, as long as I'm careful about how much I add, it keeps the water sparkling clean. The bottle that we bought should last a lifetime!
2015 | Some of Amazon's most popular outdoor fountains
These were some of the fountains that I liked when I was searching for our replacement. I realized that I tend to like smaller profile and wall fountains because they are easier to locate and hide the cords. Also, with standing wall fountains, you can tuck one into a place that would normally not have anything...because it's just an empty wall.
When I hit upon something that I like I usually get more than one. I'm already thinking about where I can put another fountain. Especially because solar powered fountains are becoming more available, which means you aren't restricted location-wise. Which means a whole new world of potential spots to place a fountain!
Below I show some of my current favorites that are available on Amazon...my main shopping venue it seems! But prices on Amazon change daily, so the prices I'm showing here are really just for you to get an idea of the price range for each fountain.
This Fountain Made it Into Our Final or Top 3
Wall Mounted Fountains Are Great for Smaller Patios
The Sleek Minimalist Lines This Fountain Has Sets It Apart
Amazon's Small Indoor Fountains
My sister has a small tabletop fountain in her front foyer that I love. It gives a really 'Zen' feel to her house. After realizing that the price of outdoor fountains was so low right now, I thought I'd explore small indoor tabletop fountains, to see if the same holds true, and it does seem to.
At $99 This May Be One of Amazons Most Popular Outdoor Fountains
The $37 Price is Probably One Reason this is a #1 Best Seller at Amazon
Links for the Best Location Section Above - I placed these links in separate section to make them 'clickable'.
- Tips on Solar Powered Fountains
This link is to a site called "Life Tips". I think members contribute tips on topics of interest, and there are quite a few really great bits of advice if you are interested in solar fountains.
- Carved Stone Fountain Creations
This is a fascinating look at how one high end supplier of natural stone fountains installs them.
Large Online Fountain Vender
- This online fountain vender has a proven reputation and good track record.
Most fountains here are on sale currently. They have a wide variety of styles, types, materials and accessories. One of the best online places to get a good quality fountain at a steep discount (at this time of year especially!)
Additional Articles - Links to more articles
Here are a few more interest articles about fountains I ran across.
Best Location for Your Outdoor Fountain
A few considerations you need to think through before you purchase a fountain for your yard.
- Where the fountain will be located is probably the most important factor. Placing the fountain in direct sun for most of the day will cause the evaporation process to accelerate significantly, and can cause more problems with algae buildup. We placed ours in a part sun/part shade location which has worked out well.
- The location also needs to have access to an electrical outlet, so that the pump has a power source. If this is impossible, one option would be to locate it in an area that has lawn or ground cover, and bury a heavy duty outdoor extension cord. Another option would be too consider a solar powered pump. This of course would necessitate locating it in a direct sunlight position. There are fountains made specifically for this purpose, and in the next section I provide a link for things to consider if you are installing a solar fountain.
- Ideally the location is somewhere where you can enjoy the maximum benefits of the fountain. We placed ours next to a main entrance to our home, therefore anyone coming to visit us gets to enjoy it while waiting at the door. While we didn't plan this, a happy accident in our location selection was that the area also happens to be close to patio doors which open to a home office/work room, therefore I can open the inside doors and listen to the tranquil water sounds all day long as I work!
- Lighting is another consideration. If you have existing outdoor lighting that could be incorporated into lighting the fountain at night, you get more time to appreciate it's beauty.
- If it's possible to locate the fountain near a water source that you could tap into for keeping the optimum water level, it would significantly reduce the amount of time needed to maintain your fountain. Some ideas of ways to do this are to tap into an underground sprinkler system (there are fittings made for most systems that provide ways to water anything from a swimming pool to hanging container plants). Or you could tap into a sump pump line, or creating a pond that the fountain sits in, taking advantage of the numerous DIY articles available for creating landscape ponds. In the next section I provide a link to an article from a top-of- the- line, carved stone fountain supplier. It's a help article about how they install fountains.
- One last consideration is the landscape plants surrounding the area of the fountain. If you have trees, shrubs or plants that drop seeds or other organic matter a lot, they can clog up the motor of the pump rapidly.
One Person's Opinion of the 10 Most Beautiful Fountains in the World
- The 10 Most Beautiful Fountains in the World
There are some beautiful pictures here of some of the most famous fountains all around the world.
My Favorite Websites for Purchasing Outdoor Fountains
Amazon is amazing in the breadth and variety of products they sell. But sometimes I can't find exactly what I'm looking for there. So these are a few of my other favorite websites for finding outdoor fountains and other garden ornamentation products.
The Popular Home Design Website Houzz is a Great Resource for Finding Reasonably Priced Outdoor Fountains
- Houzz is a Hidden Gem For Finding Beautiful Home & Landscape Products
The first time I ordered from Houzz I was cautiously optimistic. I wasn't disappointed. Houzz offers great products at very reasonable price points and oftentimes they offer free shipping too. They stand behind products and their sales are amazing!
- Eurostyle Lighting
They carry some beautiful fountains with reasonable prices,
Houzz Has a Huge Selection of Outdoor Fountains in Each Category
Pevnick Graphical Waterfalls
We recently visited a studio in Milwaukee as part of an architectural tour, and one of the sites on our tour was an amazing company that makes large scale public fountains and waterfalls that are computer controlled and create these fascinating displays. The only way I can describe them is they are like laser light shows but with water and since they are so hard to describe I'm including a video for you to see what they are like.
The man who invented the process used to create these magnificent animated sculptures did so in the course of conducting research in his role as a professor at UWM Milwaukee. We met and taked with him the day of the tour, and he told use he was utilizing computer technology for a research project for something entirely unrelated, but by recognizing the potential of a 'happy accident' he was inspired to incorporate his findings into this amazing new technology, which he markets world-wide. He, along with his family and a few dedicated employees, run the company, while he continues in his role as professor. He seemed to me to embody the quintessential stereotype of a brilliant, yet down-to-earth, grounded, and unassuming family man.
Pevnick Graphical Waterfalls Video
I took this video during the open house we attended in the fall of 2013.
Pevnick Design's Website - Computer Controlled Falling Water Droplets
I was amazed to find upon visiting their website again for this lens, that they've created a new flash video explaining exactly how their technology works, as well as showing many of the events that have used it. I mistakenly assumed that their product was designed for large outdoor installations, but they've capitalized on the idea in a novel new way and are now creating much smaller indoor installations which can be used at smaller events. It appears that they are available for rental.
- Link to their new flash video
This video shows how their technology works and some of the ways it's been used.
I'd like to know how many people have or would like to have water fountains at their home. - I'd also like to know if they have one or would like one, if it is
This poll is designed to find out how much interest people have in home water fountains...either indoors or outdoors.