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Fountain Design Tips from an Industry Expert

Bill Rose, founder of Fountains Unique

Bill Rose has been designing fountains for more than 40 years. “It all started in 1968 when I worked for Valley Crest Landscape and had the opportunity to design and install a fountain for a model home,” he recollects. He also created one of the first pondless fountains in the 70′s. Ever since, Rose has been on the cutting edge of fountain design. Now, through his company Fountains Unique, he spends a majority of his time providing high quality fountain spouts and accessories for others in the industry.

What do you love about fountains? Fountains have many benefits. First, is the soothing sounds they produce. Studies have been done showing that the sound of flowing water lowers stress levels. Second, fountains captivate people’s attention, making them a great focal point for a garden, courtyard or patio. Lastly, I love fountains because designing them is an outlet for my own creative expression.

French Courtyard Style Fountain
A fountain basin must be large enough to accommodate splash. Pictured is the French Courtyard Style Fountain made of carved stone.

What are the most common mistakes when it comes to fountain design? The number one mistake is no pre-planning. Lack of planning leads to splash and water replenishment problems that often result in an unused fountain. If a fountain basin is too small water will splash out causing muddy flower beds or wet, unsightly and unsafe pavement. The fountain will also lose water quickly which will result in a burned out pump. In order to avoid a splash problem, plan for a large enough catch basin (use the formula at right). If you are dealing with an existing splash problem, you can build the walls of the basin up higher to keep the water from escaping.

Fountain Spash Formula:
Height of falling water X .75 = splash radius
Example: 36″ X .75 = 27″ splash radius

Another common fountain mistake is plumbing the spout outside the wall. When this is done, the mask, spout or other accessory that is attached will be raised off the wall, leaving a strange gap. Many installers realize this mistake after the fact and end up having to chip back into the wall and fix the plumbing. Knowing that the connection for a spout is made inside the wall will help you avoid this problem.

small space wall fountain
This small space wall fountain provides “Nature’s Music” and is low maintenance.

What type of fountain do you recommend for a small space? Wall fountains are incredibly popular because they require a ¼ of the space required for a freestanding fountain. In 2010 we designed a wall fountain with a series of half cups that spill over into an underground reservoir. The fountain is very low maintenance because of its design. The underground reservoir is equipped with a float valve that automatically replenishes the water level if it gets low.