Garden fountain ideas – 10 ways to bring water and movement to your yard

These garden fountain ideas will help to you to transform your garden into a peaceful oasis

three garden fountain ideas
(Image credit: Haddonstone/David Harber/XXXX)

Nothing will evoke calm and tranquillity in a backyard quite like these garden fountain ideas. Whether you have a small courtyard or an expansive plot, adding a garden fountain into your space will instantly add height, interest and atmosphere to your backyard's design.

When you start researching water feature ideas, you'll quickly realize that it's not as straightforward as picking a design you like  – though that is a key component – you also need to factor in its size, placement and power source.

'You should also consider the style of your home and garden. If you have a
traditional home, you may want to choose a traditional-style fountain. If
your home is more modern, you may want to choose a contemporary-style
fountain,' says Lindsey Hyland, founder of UrbanOrganic Yield.

Garden fountain ideas

Adding garden fountain ideas to your scheme can totally transform your backyard. An influencing factor in deciding which garden fountain to choose – other than whether to match it with garden pond ideas – is the local climate. 'If you live in a cold climate, you'll have to have a special heater for your fountain during the winter, so it doesn't crack. If you don't want to do this, choose a ceramic fountain. Ceramic fountains are more expensive than metal or stone, but they are long-lasting and can be used year-round without damage,' explains Lindsey Hyland.

Below, we're showcasing our favorite garden fountain ideas.

1. Concentrate your design around a water fountain

cascade garden fountain in patio with planting and hedging

(Image credit: David Harber )

When designing patio ideas consider using garden fountain ideas as a centerpoint. Positioned in the heart of the space, with plants and garden path ideas radiating outwards, the fountain instantly draws the eye. 

'Always consider the environment surrounding your water feature and the impact that this may have on your chosen design and on the overall space. Decorative items can harmonise with their immediate surroundings in tone, texture and form or they create a striking contrast,' says David Harber. 

In this garden, the shape of the circular fountain is echoed throughout the paths and planting schemes to create a harmonise garden design. Opt for a cascading fountain, which will reflect the light and provide a soothing soundtrack to your space.

2. Incorporate plants and statues for a botanical oasis

Island pond, tree ferns, hedge of Nandina domestica 'Fire Power'. Water feature fountian with bronze flamingoes

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

If you have a fountain with a large basin, consider incorporating elements of a pond design to create a botanical oasis. Planting water plants in your fountain's basin will not only help your garden fountain to harmonize with the plants in the surrounding borders but it is also a great way to incorporate wildlife garden ideas into your plot.

3. Add garden fountain ideas to a classic cottage garden

fountain in cottage style garden

(Image credit: Jody Steward)

When choosing a garden fountain for cottage garden ideas, consider purchasing an antique or salvaged fountain. Opting for a salvaged piece brings a heritage and patina to your garden design that will instantly channel rustic, cottage style. 

‘The quality of manufacturing of earlier eras surpasses what is available now at comparable prices,’ says Edward Neish, founder of Jardinique Garden Antiques. ‘Furthermore the weathering and patina developed over time is where much of the value lies. No matter how much you cover items in muck or yogurt, the genuine results of time spent out in nature are always the best.'

4. Bring atmosphere with a self-contained fountain

stone bowl style fountain

(Image credit: Haddonstone)

You don't have to have an expansive garden to be able to incorporate garden fountain ideas. In fact, there are plenty of compact designs that will add a touch of tranquility to a wide variety of small garden ideas.

For petite spaces, self-circulating fountains are a great choice. 'These self-contained fountains are particularly appealing to individuals who are looking for a straightforward fountain to install in their garden,' says Paige Anderson, landscape architect at Nitido Design. 'These fountains are entirely self-contained and do not require the use of a pond or pool to function effectively. This type of fountain has its own pump, and is not difficult to install. All you have to do is locate the perfect place for your fountain in the yard.'

At only 32in wide, this Romanesque fountain by Haddonstone includes everything it requires to operate in the single unit – simply plug in, fill and you're good to go. Inspired by Western Roman and Byzantine architecture, this classic design would create an elegant focal point as part of a range of different patio ideas.

5. Create a Mediterranean-inspired display with urn garden fountain ideas

mediterranean patio with three vase style water fountains

(Image credit: MC Design)

If you're looking for garden fountain ideas to incorporate into your Mediterranean garden design or rock garden ideas, consider urn fountains. In this beautiful patio designed by MC Design, three beautifully glazed urns produce a bubbling display that makes for a stunning focal point in your garden.

'As well as the alluring appearance of a water feature, the soothing sounds that come with it add an element of calm to a garden. A water feature can create a tranquil space to pause and reflect,' says David Harber. 

Abiding by the enduring rule of three, the variable heights and colors create an eye-catching centerpiece that would work just as well as part of courtyard garden ideas as they would in larger garden designs.

6. Add a fountain into you walled garden

garden wall fountain with shell design

(Image credit: Haddonstone)

Walled gardens are a stalwart of traditional garden design, providing shelter from wind and frost and creating the perfect climate in which a wide range of plants, trees and vegetables can thrive. Yet, as well as the practical benefits, walled gardens are also highly beautiful spaces. Separate from the rest of the world, they are a private, secluded sanctuary to be enjoyed.

Garden fountains are one of the most atmospheric garden wall ideas, and incorporating a wall hanging design will instantly elevate the space, chanelling more traditional garden designs while also providing a beautiful soundtrack.

If adding a wall hanging fountain, you need to factor in weight. For stronger walls, a brick, terracotta or stone design will add heritage flair, but, if weight it a concern, then opt for stone-effect or ceramic-effect garden fountain ideas which will make for a lighter, yet classic, addition to your garden design. 

7. Figure out whether to keep your fountain on constantly or intermittently

Country garden with water feature

(Image credit: Marianne Majerus)

One of the questions that comes alongside garden fountain ideas, is whether you should leave your water fountain on all the time? 

There are reasons for and against doing this. 'Firstly, leaving your water feature on all the time can be expensive as most pumps run on electricity.  Secondly, there is a risk of the pump burning out from being in constant use, or if there is a sudden loss of water – sometimes this can be caused by storms where the water gets blown over the side of the pool surrounds or fountain,' explains Will Haxby, ornamental sales director at Haddonstone, 'However, keeping the pump running 24 hours a day prevents the pump becoming calcified and this can in turn mean that it lasts longer.'

8. Use garden fountain ideas to increase your home's curb appeal

vase style garden fountain near garden steps

(Image credit: MC Design)

Garden fountain ideas don't just need to be limited to your back yard. Incorporating a garden fountain into your front yard landscaping ideas can instantly elevate your home's curb appeal. The design that you opt for will depend on the look and size of your space, for example in a cottage-style garden a small, bubbling fountain will add a focal point into your front garden, however, in a grander front yard, like this space designed by MC Design, opt for elegant vase-style garden fountain ideas that will add height and reflect the sophisticated look of the space.

9. Play with shape and texture in your garden fountain ideas

round garden fountain

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

With so many different garden fountain ideas to choose from it can be a challenge to figure out which design is the right fit for your backyard ideas.

'When choosing the perfect fountain for a garden, the first thing to look at are the prominent shapes in the outdoor space. If there are a lot of straight lines in the surrounding areas I tend to choose rounded fountains to soften hard lines and add a bit of contrast,’ recommends Los Angeles based interior designer, Megan Dufresne, principal designer at MC Design. ‘Likewise, in areas with mainly rounded features, I’ll tend to use a more angular fountain design.’

10. Add wildlife friendly garden fountain ideas

low level garden fountain in verdigris saucer


(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

A fountain is a great way to add more sustainable garden ideas to your plot. However, when looking for garden fountain ideas with the intention of them being beneficial to wildlife, there are several additional considerations that you need to factor into your research.

Opting for a low-level garden fountain makes the pool of water accessible for any animals that might need it. If your pond has a large basin, consider adding plants both in the basin and around its edge. 'With water comes the opportunity to introduce an interesting array of marginal  plants, too, and increase the biodiversity on offer for visiting wildlife,' explains garden expert Leigh Clapp. 

Furthermore, you must be cautious about adding chemicals into your fountain, only opting for those that are wildlife friendly and when installing your fountains pump, be sure it has an integrated 'wildlife protection system' to prevent any animals being inadvertently injured by the pump.

Where's the best place to put a garden fountain?

When thinking about placement of a garden fountain, David Harber, founder and designer at David Harber, advises asking yourself these key questions in order to find the optimum location in your garden: 

'Should it blend in or stand out on its own accord? Do you want it to dominate the space, or create a narrative within its surrounding environment? Try looking at your garden from different angles, too. Will it be enjoyed when viewed at an altered perspective? 

'Often one finds that when you analyse a space from a different stance, you’ll appreciate something new and different, each and every time.'

What to put in a fountain to keep the water clear?

Put an algaecide in a fountain to keep the water clear. A wildlife friendly algaecide, such as Fountec, will treat the algae and keep the water clear. However, this should never be added to a pond as it is not safe for fish or plants. If you are looking for a more sustainable, wildlife-friendly way to keep the water clear, opt for barley extract or barley balls in the basin, which will keep the water clean and will not harm wildlife or damage the inner-workings of your fountain.

'Regularly and thoroughly cleaning your water feature or fountain to prevent algae build-up. For best results, clean monthly, especially during the summer or if your water feature is situated in full sun,' says Will Haxby of Haddonstone. 'Algae growth develops in water features when naturally occurring nutrients, caused by plant and fish waste, are exposed to light.'

Do garden water features need electricity?

Yes, all garden water features do need electricity, however this does not necessarily need to come from the mains. There are lots of different garden fountain ideas that are solar powered. 

Opting for a solar powered design means that you are free to position your garden fountain where-ever you like, rather than having your garden design being dictated by the electrical outlets. Solar powered fountains only operate while the sun is shining, so if you want your fountain to continually make a pretty display, whether that's through the winter or to create a restful backdrop to al fresco dining, you might want to consider an electrical-outlet powered fountain.

If you decide to opt for a wired fountain then 'it’s worth considering some minor excavation work to hide unsightly cabling. We recommend seeking the professional help of a qualified electrician,' advises Will Haxby of Haddonstone.

Holly Reaney
Holly Reaney

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature four years ago, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.