The process of installing a fountain is relatively straightforward but does require a certain amount of plumbing experience and hard work. Installation generally requires extensive preparation and planning before the work begins. Once the actual construction is underway, the installation process can typically be completed over a few weekends if weather and outdoor conditions permit.
A landscaper, plumber or other professional can ensure the installation is done correctly and in a reasonable amount of time. Because many water features can involve water and electricity, safety should be of the utmost importance.
If you have reasonable home improvement knowledge and opt to tackle this as a DIY project, you will need:
- A shovel or backhoe for digging the hole
- An adjustable plumbing wrench
- A box cutter or other precision cutting tool for trimming
- Underlayment and pond liner
- Decorative rocks and plants
Preparing for installation
Whether digging a pond yourself or hiring a professional, be sure to notify 811. (Photo courtesy of Lorraine and Bob Whiteside)
Most states require homeowners and contractors to call 811, One Call or Call Before You Dig hotline at least 48 to 72 hours before work is to begin. This allows sufficient time for local utility companies to mark buried pipes, cables and other underground systems with highly visible paint and flags so they are not damaged by the project.
The installation area should be clearly marked and outlined. If a larger pond is desired in conjunction with the fountain, the depth of the pond should be decided upon in advance. Some do-it-yourself enthusiasts even measure the desired depth on lengths of wood to provide an on-the-fly way to determine the proper depth at all points of the installation site.
For areas with existing plumbing fixtures and electrical outlets, the installation process can be streamlined. Otherwise, homeowners should either extend the water pipes to the area where the fountain will be installed or contract with a professional handyman to deliver water to the desired area. Most homeowners should not attempt to extend electrical wiring to the area; electrical work typically requires expertise and years of experience, so this job is best left to a professional.
Deciding on the right fountain or fixture for the available space can be challenging. In some cases, it can be helpful to obtain expert advice from a local handyman with experience in the field or a qualified landscape design specialist.
Digging right in
The first stage of actual construction consists of digging the hole where the fountain will be installed. The dimensions of this hole depend on the desired depth of the pond associated with the fountain and the size of the fixtures being installed. Any rocks or stones removed during this process can be used to secure the underlayment and liner during the next stage of construction.
Just as the pad underneath carpeting protects both the carpet and the flooring from damage due to impact or tearing, underlayment serves the same purpose in the bed of a water feature. This thick, durable padding provides a cushion between the ground and the liner of the fountain and pond to help extend the life and beauty of the finished product. It is important to remove any roots, sharp stones or other protrusions from the bottom of the hole before installing the underlayment in order to reduce the potential for damage.
The liner can be positioned directly atop the underlayment and secured with stones or weights to hold both layers in place temporarily. Once the feature is filled, the weight of the water should hold both the underlayment and the liner in place securely.
Water, water everywhere
The actual installation of the fountain is relatively simple. Both the water pump and fountain should be attached to the water supply and electricity and tested before positioning them as desired inside the liner of the water feature location. Once these items have been properly placed, the feature can be filled and the fountain's performance tested once again to ensure correct function.
The final step is to add decorative rocks, plants and other elements around the edge of the fountain and pond and to trim the pond liner and underlayment to conceal any evidence of the construction process.
While these steps are applicable to all fountain and water fixture installation, some fixtures may come with detailed manufacturer's installation instructions that supersede the advice provided here. The process of installing a fountain and pond is well within the abilities of do-it-yourself veterans, but homeowners uncertain about installing plumbing or who require electrical wiring services can generally find a qualified professional to help them achieve their exterior design goals.