Self-Contained Fountain Features

Self-Contained Fountain Features

In some cases, particularly where space is at a premium, it may be desirable to install a moving water feature without all the paraphernalia of pool construction. In such a situation, the flexibility of a self-contained fountain unit can prove very useful.



Self-Contained Fountain Features The self-contained fountain bowl is a simple unit that incorporates a submersible pump and merely requires the addition of a suitable fountain outlet to provide the required effect. Fountain bowls arc usually available as fully portable kits that can be used on their own indoors, or turned into something much more elaborate outdoors. The great advantage of this type of water feature, apart from its attractiveness and modest scale, is the fact that it is equally useful in sun or shade. Neither plants nor fish are required, so you can position it anywhere.

Apart from the reservoir and pump, the kit usually includes a small liner that is large enough to line an excavation up to 1.2m (4ft) in diameter. This creates a waterproof surround into which the pump and reservoir unit are installed. Well washed pebbles or cobbles are used to fill in around the reservoir and up to the level of the pump outlet. With a suitable bell-shaped or gushing fountain outlet fitted, the water will appear to bubble and rush up from between the stones. The water simply drains back through the cobbles and is recirculated.

When making such a feature, it is important to have a clearly defined edge, which can be simply provided by paving slabs, or more elaborately by concrete or stone edgings These are available as self-assembly units to create pond surrounds and are invaluable in enabling the cobbles and the water to be lifted to a more suitable height for enjoyment.



Oriental gardens are a rich source of inspiration for fountain ideas. The simple, stone Oriental-style fountain — a variation on the millstone fountain — is very versatile and useful in the modern garden. While it might not be easy to drill a stone yourself to accommodate the outlet pipe and fountain spray connector of a submersible pump, this can be undertaken successfully by a stone mason. Then all that is required is the creation of a simple lined sump, or reservoir, which will take the pump unit itself and a protective structure of bricks that will partly enclose the pump. The remainder of the sump should be filled with cobble stones. The main stone, with pump outlet and fountain jet attached, is positioned, the pump switched on, and the water will begin to bubble out. For the most impressive effect, use a fountain jet that mixes air with water and produces a low, throbbing geyser-like plume.

Although not strictly fountains, bamboo water chutes and pipes have similar origins and give a charming tranquil feel to the garden. The bamboo chute normally delivers water to a strategically placed stone bowl on a cobbled or pebbled base. The Japanese create various complexities with dripping water and chutes that rock to unload their contents at regular intervals, but the simple chute pouring water continuously through a hollow bamboo cane is also very attractive. The pump’s outlet is connected to the cane, while the water eventually percolates through the cobbles or pebbles into the reservoir below.

To make a bamboo chute, take two standard garden canes, about 90cm (36in) long, and push them into the ground to form an X shape. Where they meet, bind them tightly together to make the stand upon which the chute will be placed. A thicker cane is required for the chute itself. This should be hollowed out and cut to a length of 45-60cm (18-24in), one end being shaped at an angle.



Of all the contained moving water features, the millstone fountain is one of the most effective and popular. You may not be fortunate enough to find a real millstone, but very creditable fibreglass replicas are available from fountain manufacturers. Once their rough surface has developed a coating of algae, they can look remarkably like the real thing.

A millstone should be fitted over a lined excavation or a suitable container, such as a fountain bowl or sunken dustbin. This will act as a reservoir and house the submersible pump. For a lined excavation, mark out an area that is slightly larger than the diameter of the millstone. When using a dustbin, excavate so that the lip of the dustbin is flush with the ground or sunk to the depth at which the millstone will rest. For the most effective installation, prepare a margin around the hole that will support the millstone and can be lined before covering with pebbles. To make the installation as waterproof as possible, ensure that the excavation has a distinct fall towards the reservoir.

A genuine millstone should be supported by a circle of concrete building blocks, or even three or four piers, set in the ground before the lining is added. This will prevent the stone from twisting under its own weight.

Once the excavation has been lined, place the submersible pump in position and tie a string to the outlet hose.

To provide additional support for the millstone, lay either steel reinforcing rods or reinforcing mesh over the hole to create a grid with gaps no more than 10cm (4in) square. Draw the string and outlet pipe through the grid, then through the stone prior to positioning it and fitting a simple fountain outlet. Finally, fill the margin around the stone with pebbles or cobbles.

When the fountain is operating, water will cascade over the stone and seep back into the reservoir through the margin of pebbles or cobbles. Top-up water will need adding regularly to this margin, for a millstone fountain, like a fountain bowl, suffers considerable water loss through evaporation. Pay particular attention to this as a drastically reduced water level can damage the pump.



1. Excavate the hole accurately, but slightly larger than required and insert a pool liner. It is advisable to protect the liner from possible damage with an underlay of fleece.

2. Position the pump and attach a string to the outlet hose, drawing it through the metal grid. Place the metal grid in position and carefully draw the pump hose through the centre.

3. Position the millstone, drawing the pipe through the centre. Ensure that it is sitting evenly in the centre of the hole and then surround with well washed cobbles or pebbles.


16. March 2011 by admin
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Water Gardening/Water Features | Tags: | Comments Off on Self-Contained Fountain Features


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