How to Install a Fountain

Fountain Installation Plans

Most fountains have a reservoir, a basin in which water collects. Fountains work by gravity, so the reservoir is also typically the base. Assembling the fountain usually involves connecting a series of other basins to the reservoir and feeding a tube or pipe between the reservoir and the top basin.

The fountain has one or two motor-driven pumps (also called bilge pumps), which are submerged in water. The pump goes in the reservoir, or, in a two-pump fountain, in the reservoir and the top basin. It may or may not be encased in a filter box, which -- just like the filter in a swimming pool -- helps keep out debris. You'll need to install the pump and connect it with a power source -- either an electrical cable or a solar panel. Don't turn the pump on until you've filled the fountain. Pumps aren't meant to circulate air, and they can be damaged by being run dry.

Most pumps use suction to circulate water through the fountain. You may need to experiment to find the appropriate pumping rate. If the pump is set too high, the fountain will splash (which can waste water, as well as damage the surrounding furniture, walls and flooring). If it's set too low, the fountain won't seem to circulate at all.

Before installing a wall fountain, you may want to have an electrician visit your house to install an outlet and a switch on the wall in question, in such a way that the power cord -- but not the switch -- will be behind the fountain when it's installed. A hanging cord can ruin the dramatic visual effect of a wall-mounted fountain.

An outdoor fountain, beyond these components, may involve a plastic liner. Any fountain that requires digging or excavation needs to be treated like a pond: You have to contain and manage the water. Once you've set a fountain into the ground, it's not so easy to relocate it. Plan this installation carefully. Look at such details as:

  • Light and shadow
  • Animal life (Is your fountain going to receive a lot of "decoration" from the birds' nest above?)
  • Sun exposure, particularly if you have a solar-powered fountain
  • Soil composition and settling
  • Vegetation (What do you want to plant around the fountain? What's already growing there?)

Now that you know how the different pieces go together, let's take a look at the tools you need to assemble them.