How to install a fountain

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 at least five things:

1. A shovel or backhoe for digging the hole

2. An adjustable plumbing wrench

3. A box cutter or other precision cutting tool for trimming

4. Underlayment and pond liner

5. Decorative rocks and plants

Preparing your yard

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 the hole

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.

Hooking up to water and electricity

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.

water fountain

Connecting a fountain to the water source and electrical line can be the most difficult part of a DIY project. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Types of fountains

Fountains are available in thousands of different designs making it easy to incorporate them into small spaces with ease.

These water features are easily filled with water from your garden hose and circulated with a self-contained pump manufactured into its design. It is important to monitor the water levels so that it can be refilled as necessary. Dry fountains can burn out the pumps.

Freestanding fountains. Used as a main focal point within a landscaping design, freestanding fountains are available in many different sizes.

It is important to remember that to create an ideal look and desired results you will want to select a fountain that fits the proportions of the space you are working with.

Rising jet fountains. Often incorporated with ponds or swimming pools, rising jet fountains give the impression of a natural geyser.

Wind and location should be considered when choosing the placement of these water features, as they can be greatly affected by these elements, causing undesired results.

Cascading fountains. Most cascading fountains are creating using pots or bowls that are stacked in a stair or ladder design.

Often resembling artistic sculptures, these fountains can be scaled appropriately acting as a main focal point in a smaller area with the same appeal as a larger space.

Waterfalls. Waterfalls offer a lot of elegance to the landscaping design. These water features can be constructed using many different types of materials. A pump forces water up through tubing that is ran through the focal point of the waterfall.

Depending on the size of the waterfall, you can have these water features filled with a garden hose, have water hauled in or use water from a swimming pool to run through the waterfall.

Wall-mounted waterfalls. When space is limited, wall-mounted waterfalls can provide you with much of the same serenity as other larger water features without the need for room.

These waterfalls are self-contained and will mount in areas such as patios, walkways or even balconies of condominiums or urban homes.

Traditional European waterfalls. Generally made from carved stone, traditional European waterfalls are designed to be displayed in a corner area. They are perfect for patios and walkways when two adjoining walls are present.

Poolside waterfalls. You can turn your backyard swimming pool into a luxury resort with the many different poolside waterfalls that are available. Many of these water features can be personalized to fit into your landscaped design, adding a relaxed and elegant atmosphere to your pool.

Rock waterfalls. Rock waterfalls are available in many different sizes and styles. You can choose from natural rock or fiberglass designed rocks that provide a cascading water effect in your landscaped design.

Modular waterfalls. Constructed of different types of metal and pots, these waterfalls are similar to cascading fountains. When water drops onto the various metal surfaces you are provided with amazing sounds that are relaxing and peaceful to many individuals.

koi pond

Koi ponds need lots of space so make sure your backyard is big enough to accommodate one before starting construction. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)


Ponds are slow running water features that allow a place for tranquility away from the stresses of the world. As one of the only water features that add to the environment with the natural habitats they provide for the plants, vegetation, trees and wildlife that depend on them for their home, ponds are filled with benefits for you and your home, as well.

People tend to have water hauled in to fill their ponds initially.

Rain, snow and other natural elements are used to sustain water levels. If inadequate water levels are encountered you may need to have additional water hauled in.

Chemical treatments may be necessary for proper control of algae to prevent your pond from becoming stagnant and harming the plants, vegetation and fish housed in these water features.

Pumps are necessary for providing adequate oxygen levels through the water and to prevent a lot of stagnant conditions that can occur.

Koi ponds. They provide homes to Koi or gold fish. These fish have the ability to grow to long lengths, requiring the need for larger spaces for designing these types of ponds. It is recommended that Koi ponds have a capacity of holding a minimum of one thousand gallons of water to accommodate healthy living spaces for these fish.

You should only choose this type of pond if you have the space available.

Water gardens. Home to many different types of plants, flowers and other vegetation that thrives on the nutrients found in water, water gardens can be designed in many different shapes and sizes. This allows people with smaller amounts of space to enjoy these relaxing focal points around their home.

Water gardens provide surrounding plants and vegetation with proper conditions to help them thrive.

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