Fountain Landscaping Tips

Adding a water feature to your yard can help create a relaxing oasis and focal point.

January 5, 2024
Residential Landscaping

Water features can give you endless hours of enjoyment in your yard or garden. Adding water fountains and landscaping around them can enhance the visual appeal of your landscape, as well as provide water for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Your fountain will attract more animals than still water because it moves. Algae are deterred from growing by motion. Wildlife will be drawn to your fountain by its sound - and you will enjoy spending more and more time in your backyard paradise due to the soothing effect of moving water.

What plants should be used to landscape around water fountains?

Answering these questions honestly is "It depends."

Landscape design around water fountains is influenced by the type of water feature and its placement in your landscape.

The Best Place for Your Water Fountain

Placement of your water fountain is the first decision you need to make. The site selection process can be viewed as either choosing a water fountain to accent your landscape or changing your landscape plants to accent your water fountain.

Landscape choices are influenced by lifestyle choices

Whenever you consult a professional landscaper about installing a water fountain, he or she will ask how your new fountain will fit into your lifestyle.

Do you spend most of your time outside reading your newspaper or discussing the events of the day with your spouse? If so, a small moving water feature framed by container plants may be perfect for you.

Do you want your backyard to be a place for pleasant, intimate conversations? If this is the case, you may want to place a small bubbling fountain in a corner, surrounded by bamboo plants that are tall and lush.

How about hosting a party in your backyard? Here, too, a fountain can work, but you'll probably want to place it inside a pool or water with low landscape plants that draw the eye to the statue.

Lines of sight for your fountain

You should also consider the lines of sight between your new water fountain and your favorite spots in your yard when choosing the site for your fountain. Fountain enjoyment is greatly affected by the view you have of it.

Ideally, you should place your fountain so that you can see it from as many angles as possible. Consider low landscaping plants that don't obstruct your view if this is your plan.

You may want to place your fountain near a window of your home if you live in an area with long winters that limit your time outdoors.

Adding a fountain to a long landscaped walkway may be the best solution if you have a large backyard or fountain. A hidden water feature may even entice guests to explore your landscape by reflecting sunlight off moving water, hidden behind tall grasses or conifers, a vine-covered arbor or an artificial waterfall.

You may also want to use your fountain as a hidden water feature. Enclosing your fountain will block out traffic noise and nearby neighbors. Choosing plants that will thrive in your fountain's sunlight is important when this is your goal.

Other considerations for the site for your water fountain

Sun and shade

You should place your water fountain in a location that gets enough sun if you want flowering plants to frame it. It is recommended that flowering plants receive six hours of full sun every day.

If you plan to accent your fountain with a tub garden, be sure it is in shade most of the day, at least during the summer. A small, still water feature can overheat in the sun and grow algae.


It is possible for small fountains to tumble in strong winds if they are not anchored. Fall foliage can accumulate around a water fountain if it is surrounded by deciduous trees.

Vine-covered latticework provides better wind protection than a wall or fence. If the protective barrier lets some wind through, it won't concentrate the full force of the wind in one place, which could be your fountain if you don't measure carefully.

Existing trees

Do not remove established trees to make your fountain the focal point of your landscape. Leyland cypress trees, however, should not be used as windbreaks because they grow rapidly. As Leyland cypresses grow 50 to 75 feet (16 to 24 meters) tall, they can outlive their welcome.

Keeping your fountain balanced also means avoiding trees with thirsty roots, such as willows. You should also keep in mind that falling leaves, twigs, fruit, acorns, and petals can accumulate in your fountain and affect its chemistry. There is a possibility that they will affect recirculation pumps and the color of the pool of water.

Toxic plants

Your fountain's water can be poisoned by toxic leaves from yews, hollies, azaleas, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels if they accumulate. That can make the water in your fountain toxic to birds, bees, butterflies, pets, and people.

Make sure you decide on a site that is breathtaking, not backbreaking. Fountain landscapers should keep their projects simple, especially when installing their first water fountain.

Many Choices for Water Fountains

Fountains create shimmering patterns of sunlight as they capture the sun's rays. A moving water feature with a fountain generates soothing sounds that attract migrating birds. Every garden design can benefit from a fountain.

You should consider not only the sound, size, and style of the fountain, but also the plants you want to grow around it. Generally, there are two types of fountains:

  1. spray fountains, which are just water nozzles that spray water in various patterns
  2. statuary fountains, which spray water from a statue or some other figure

Spray patterns become more elaborate as your landscape becomes more formal. If you have enough sun, a fountain statue in front of a climbing rose arbor, clematis, or bougainvillea may look great. To maintain a wild, rustic look in your landscape, a simple geyser fountain, maybe framed by paving stones, or even a fountain that bubbles up from the ground may be the best solution.

6 Simple Tips for Landscaping Around Water Fountains

After you've chosen the perfect spot for your water fountain, there are relatively small projects that can make it even more attractive.

1. Decorate the base of your fountain with stone or gravel

A variety of materials can be used to accent the base, depending on your landscape design and other elements in your yard. You can add interesting textures to your fountain by using gravel and river stones. The use of paving stones to accent your fountain works equally well in modern and rustic landscapes.

Using crushed oyster shells or seashells may help your fountain blend in with your yard if you live near the coast. Create a border or rim around any ground-level collection pool in order to prevent decorative materials from spilling into the pond.

The ornamental edging is held in place with metal, plastic, pavers, stone, and brick.

2. Consider colored lenses for general lighting

The right color lenses can highlight the beauty of statuary while framing your fountain with the shapes and textures of your landscape plants. Be careful not to choose colors that clash with flowers or variegated leaves.

3. Use vines to cover fixtures

Water must be recirculated through pipes in wall fountains. Pumps and electrical connections are required for recirculating fountains. Dark green paint makes your fountain hardware less noticeable. If it is covered with vines, it may not be noticeable at all.

4. Be careful about the placement of underwater lights

Waterfalls, lily ponds, and other features can be accentuated with underwater lights. However, do not place them where they cause glare or block the moon's reflection on a moonlit night.

Before investing in landscaping around old fountains, add color. If your statuary fountain or concrete fountain is beginning to look drab, add color before you change the landscaping around it. Use a bright, bold color to paint the entire fountain.

Be sure to use a concrete primer before painting with masonry paint, which will stand up to constant moisture. You may not need to spend as much time working on landscape plants if your fountain has bold color around the rim.

5. Float ornaments

Floating ornaments can draw attention to your fountain in a subtle way depending on its height and reservoir. Japanese fishing net floats with colored glass create a colorful, shimmering effect in fountains with larger sizes.

6. Pair your fountain with plants

Ground cover should be planted around a freestanding fountain. Silver Nickel vine, Dichondra argentea, also known as Silver Falls, has delicate silvery-green leaves. The black-eyed Susan vine, also known as Thunbergia alata, produces yellow flowers with purple centers that complement many kinds of fountains.

No matter how you want to landscape your water feature, a Charter Vista company can help make your fountain dreams come true!

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