Every time I get out to garden I am reminded of the fact that here along the Central Coast we are blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors almost every day of the year. This is particularly true for springtime. Spring is when we enjoy the return of agriculture and marvel in the growth and development of the green around us.

This spring, I am excited to introduce readers to the concept of adding “music” to your outdoor environment. That is, water. Water has become increasingly popular in outdoor environments. It is both elegant and soothing. While I have written about ponds in the past, this feature is dedicated to the ability to “capture” the sound of music with the use of disappearing fountains.

Disappearing fountains are essentially water features that carry water over an object and into the ground. The water seems to miraculously “disappear.” Basically, water is pumped from a hidden reservoir buried in the ground. You make a simple connection using a flexible hose and you’re done. Water flows through the fountain piece of your choice and back down again.
Disappearing fountains have a great many benefits to traditional fountains or ponds. Firstly, they are safe for children because there is no open water. They also provide water for wildlife. Birds may come to drink, but don’t linger because of the typical small size of the opening for water to come out. Install one near a patio or entry and you’ll enjoy a soothing and even “cooling” effect.

The installation of a disappearing fountain has become easier than ever. Thanks to new “pre-molded” reservoirs and the availability of “kits,” all you need is a vessel or object with which to make your fountain, rock, a pump and some tubing. All of which can be found at your favorite local nursery.

The feature of most disappearing fountains is one to three pots, rocks or urns. This all depends on the area you have to work with. Pieces should come “pre-plumbed” and / or can be plumbed for you by the staff assisting you at the point of purchase. When it comes to rock, most folks will use a granite boulder or a basalt column. Three basalt columns of varying heights is very popular and beautiful! The main benefit of rock is that it will last forever.

Pots make excellent disappearing fountains and are very popular as well. Glazed pots are your best bet. They are fired at very high temperature and will last up to twenty years. Terra Cotta pots also work. However, they typically will only hold up five years before they break down. Some folks will also use cast stone statuary. Like stone, these last a long time.

The next thing to do is to select the right size reservoir kit for the size display you have in mind. They come in three sizes, 2’ by 2’, 3’ by 3’ and 4’ by 4’. The reservoir kit includes the plastic tub / reservoir, grating, block and landscape fabric. You will also need a pump. Your pump will be determined by the height and flow needed for your feature. Finally, you’ll need to pick up rock or gravel with which to cover and decorate the top of the reservoir.

Once materials are assembled, it only gets easier. You dig a hole sufficient for your reservoir. In the base of the hole, you’ll add sand to be sure you can level the reservoir. Your pump will sit off to one corner in the reservoir. Most pumps have long extension cords, so as long as you are near an outlet, your pump should be fine. The grate fits neatly on top of the reservoir and your water tubing will poke through the grate and into the bottom of the “pre-plumbed” feature.

You will need to cover the grate in landscape fabric. This prevents the material at the base of the feature from flowing through the grate and into the reservoir. You’ll then place gravel and rock of your choice on top of the fabric. In no time at all, you fill your feature and the reservoir and turn on the pump.

Features need little or no upkeep other than periodically adding water. Most pumps are magnetic drive these days and can run either 24 hours a day or on a timer.

A disappearing fountain is but one of the many ways that you can add the beautiful music of water to your home, business or outdoor environment. Not only are they clean, they are not going to break the bank and are easy to install.

For centuries, water has represented one of God’s greatest gifts. We celebrate and we depend on it and for folks looking to add value to their lives, water gardening and a disappearing fountain is a great way to do it. Good luck!!!

How To: Choose a Fountain