Make an Outdoor Water Fountain

Backyard fountains can suit any garden style, garden size, or gardener's time commitment. Whether you are considering different water fountain ideas, want to make your own fountain, or plan to expand one you already have, get inspired with our water fountain ideas.

Start Small with Garden Fountains

Sure, garden fountains can be big and bold, but they can also be sized to fit your space and your gardening time. Try your hand at a tabletop water garden or pot fountain for a simple splash of water gardening in a busy life or small area. Move the mini water garden from a sunny spot to the dining area when you need a quick, no-cost focal point.

Best For: Beginning backyard fountain gardeners looking for tabletop accents, a touch of nature, and low-maintenance water fountain ideas in a confined space. These spare-time garden fountains are ideal projects for balconies, small decks, and other intimate dining or sitting areas.

Focus on Style

Garden fountains can accent the design aesthetic of an intimate space in the same way that a big water feature fits into the design continuum of a bigger yard. A geometric two-tier pot fountain accentuates the clean lines and contemporary Asian influence in this outdoor space.

Best For: Gardeners looking for style and flexibility with low time and maintenance commitments. Ready-made tabletop and patio-size backyard fountains are readily available in an assortment of design styles. Most are simple to install and maintain.

Explore Unusual Pot Fountains

Garden fountains lend themselves to virtually any kind and style of container, including oversize galvanized tubs. The pot fountain must, of course, be watertight. Building a fountain of large scale can support larger plants, adding height and structure to a pot fountain. Group a few complementary containers of various sizes for a striking water-feature focal point.

Best For: Gardeners with a flair for reimagining. An ability to see a container from a different perspective creates a water feature with style to match the garden's sensibility. Once installed, these projects become easy-to-maintain garden centerpieces.

Design a One-of-a-Kind Garden or Pot Fountain

Unusually designed backyard fountains can integrate seamlessly into a landscape. The key is to use elements in the pot fountain that complement the shape, texture, and style of the garden. How you combine elements—basin, pedestal or base, and spout—determines the sense of style.

Best For: Gardeners with a willingness to explore options and materials for building a fountain. A relatively fuss-free garden accent, a garden or pot fountain that's unique to its garden setting takes a bit of thought, research, and imagination to create.

Reuse Cast-Off Items

If your outdoor style tends more toward the eccentric, then your garden or pot fountain can be a bit idiosyncratic, too. With larger containers, you'll be able to include a wider variety of plants, such as the collection nestled in this vintage claw-foot tub, to create color variation, height, and texture in your focal-point pot fountain. Seeing beyond an object's original use to envision its potential can create a delightful garden attention-getter.

Best For: Gardeners with a desire for the unexpected and a preference for the avant-garde. Repurposed materials imaginatively converted to landscape backyard fountains become conversation pieces.

Use a Birdbath as a Focal Point

Backyard fountains include birdbaths and stand-alone garden fountains; some have moving water elements, while others highlight stationary pools. Placed in a circular paved area, a bubbling or still pot fountain such as this birdbath can act as a yard's organizing focal point. A birdbath can be a focal point in a structured formal garden, on a deck, in a blowsy cottage garden, and in all sorts of garden incarnations when it's surrounded by plants and hardscape suited to the desired style.

Best For: Gardeners looking for a pot fountain focal point and wildlife. A birdbath offers a simple structure on which to build a pot fountain design. Provide appropriate shelter and food sources in the garden mix to attract birds and wildlife.

Choose Natural-Looking Backyard Fountains

In autumn and winter when the rest of the garden dies back, a pot fountain, such as this one nestled in a boulder, adds beauty and structure to an outdoor space. Keep all-season appeal in mind when choosing the placement and size of a water garden, particularly if the material can withstand the elements. Even if the water is drained in the winter, the garden or pot fountain can be a beautiful sculptural element.

Best For: Gardeners who prefer all-season interest for their backyard fountains. A water garden or pot fountain with natural ambience acts as a focal point when foliage is less prominent and a subtle accent when the garden is in bloom.

Include a Stand-Alone Pond

A small stand-alone pond on a patio or deck or in a garden niche can be an interesting architectural feature. Bonus: It can be a less-expensive way to start working with water plants and perhaps even a few fish.

Best For: Gardeners who want to delve into backyard fountain possibilities but at a manageable level. A self-contained pond requires more maintenance but also offers more garden opportunities.

Use a Small Waterfall as a Pot Fountain Accent

As a terminus, a small water feature is a good way to taper off and dramatically end a flowerbed. For example, the large boulder collection pictured above signals a stopping point for the planted area that rings the back patio; it also encourages visitors to stop and admire both the stream and the flowers. The sound of falling water adds a pleasing element to the nearby deck.

Best For: Gardeners who want the sound and structural appeal of flowing water but not necessarily water plants. A small waterfall can be surrounded by plants but need not include water plants.

Add Drama to a Retaining Wall

Backyard fountains don't have to include plants or fish. The sound of water and the drama of design can be enough for some gardeners and gardens. This backyard fountain—cleverly used as both retaining wall and focal point—repeats the classic shapes and materials in the rest of the outdoor space.

Best For: Gardeners whose focus is design with water. Pools and garden fountains along a wall are all about the look and sound.

Enlarge a Stream in Garden Fountains

Especially for larger backyard fountains with naturalistic design, a stream can be a great way to extend backyard fountains and add an expansive sense of exploration to an outdoor space. Garden fountains don't need to be overly wide, but they can use both hardscape pieces such as boulders and a variety of plants to meld it with the surrounding landscape.

Best For: Gardeners who want to emulate the pleasure of a woodland stream. As it trickles and gurgles along, a fountain stream can guide visitors to secret niches and resting spots.

Use Garden Fountains to Conquer a Slope

Integrating backyard fountains is an effective way to manage a slope. Depending on the size of the slope and the yard, garden fountains can contain several levels; this one is stepped down with a waterfall and two levels of ponds. Working with flagstone as a retaining wall helps backyard fountains feel more natural in this setting, as does the combination of evergreens and blooming plants.

Best For: Gardeners who want to take advantage of water's natural properties. Because water wants to flow downhill anyway, pools, streams, and waterfalls are ideal for changing a hillside from a problem to a pleasure.

Create a Small In-Ground Pond

In-ground ponds can be subtly integrated into backyard fountains or distinctly set apart in a more formal style. Either way, they offer a chance to include water plants as well as a water garden or pot fountain. An in-ground pond can be designed in any size and shape to match a garden style. Pictured above, pavers and gravel surround the sculpted stone sides of this small focal-point pond. A formal trimmed hedge provides a suitable backdrop for the spurting-lion pot fountain.

Best For: Gardeners who want custom style. With water plants, a suitable pot, and coordinating landscaping, an in-ground pond creates a complete garden or pot fountain.

Keep a Pond Simple in Garden Fountains

With ready-to-assemble kits and the wide availability of water plants, a garden or pot fountain can be simple to install and maintain. Here, a trio of plants fills this small pond pot fountain. A casually loose arrangement of stones borders the pond, and low-growing plants soften the edges.

Best For: Gardeners who want all the advantages of a garden fountain without too many headaches. Ready-made forms offer relatively simple installation in sizes that make maintenance manageable.

Expand Current Backyard Fountains

If you've tackled a small pot fountain, garden fountains, or a pond, you might be ready to integrate a larger garden or pot fountain, such as a stream-pond duo, into your landscape. Pictured above, a small brook leads to the boulder-edge pond; just a few plants dot the surface. Placed along a path of the garden fountain, a pond provides a stopping point for visual interest.

Best For: Gardeners who are ready for a more complex project. Integrated backyard fountains with streams, pools, fountains, falls, plants, fish, and other elements require significant planning and weekly maintenance.

Interact with a Large Pond

The edges of backyard fountains and ponds can certainly be static, but clever arrangements of hardscape elements can make a garden or pot fountain a more hands-on experience. These large rectangular slabs provide a walking surface across the water, breaking up the expanse without dividing it. That enables gardeners and visitors to change their vantage points to appreciate the pond's varied beauty and incorporate the views and activity into their lifestyle.

Best For: Gardeners who dream of stylish, large-scale backyard fountains. An expansive garden or pot fountain can fill the garden with pleasing design elements that accentuate the appeal of the outdoor living spaces.

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