© 2008 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
“The fascinating sound of water falling over rocks or splashing back into a small pool from a fountain has always had the unique ability to generate a gentle, passive state of mind.
With a little bit of careful planning and design, even a small rock garden fountain can create a beautiful landscaping focal point and completely transform an ordinary corner of your yard into a special mystical place that is like no other.
Before you start building your rock garden fountain, a few important choices must be made.
How large will your dream feature be? A fountain does not have to be huge to be beautiful. Where will the fountain be located? Location is critical if the fountain is to be a major feature and focal point of your landscaping. Take advantage of a less conspicuous location if you prefer a unique, private space. Orient the site to allow optimal viewing from your patio, deck, or window if the structure is large and take advantage of the unique possibilities of design.
When the location is determined, use small pickets and a string to approximate the size of your project and orient it. Study the effect on the rest of the yard carefully and position or rotate it differently if the location will interfere with the predicted and general uses for your yard. Remember, it is easier to move now than later.
Do consider careful placement of individual elements of the rock garden fountain, particularly plants and large decorative rocks if used. Visualize the difference between water falling into water, which necessitates installing a small pond with a liner, and the alternate choice of water falling from a fountain onto gravel, cobbles or rocks, using a “pondless” design. Both are very attractive options. Including a small pond has much appeal, but the pondless concept has the added benefit of safety if you have very small children.
Do remember to get a building permit if required, and check with local utilities for location of cables, gas lines and other superstructure before you start digging.
You will need the following supplies and equipment to build your rock garden fountain.
- Wooden pickets
- Carpenter’s line or heavy string
- Shovel (a sharp, flat spade is suitable)
- Pond liner ( Note: required for either pond or pondless construction, size will depend on the shape, size and depth of the excavation. )
- Pond liner underlayment (optional, but it can prevent liner perforation)
- Fountain Pump and circulating line kit
- Pump reservoir (if building a pondless version)
- Rocks (Various sizes, colours as desired)
- Sand (clean construction sand containing no trash, stones or roots)
- Gravel Coarse cobbles of choice. Uniformly-sized cobbles can be extremely attractive.
Let’s Build the Fountain!
1. With the size and location decided and outlined, remove sod and topsoil from the site. Use it elsewhere for landscaping, filling holes, or give it away.
2. Excavate the pond site to the depth desired . Unless your plan includes fish, make the pond only as deep as necessary for appearance. Remember you will be installing a layer of sand, then a layer of gravel cobbles in the pond. (* For the pondless design, you will excavate a similar but smaller hole, allowing a hole to allow for the fountain pump reservoir.
3. Smooth the bottom of the excavation, removing any sharp rocks or roots. Make sure the sides are gentle. Smooth with sand if necessary. ( * For the pondless version, ensure a satisfactory location for the pump reservoir as required.)
4. Install the pond liner carefully, running it up and overlapping the edge. Place rocks on it to temporarily hold it in place.
5. Place a 2″ layer of sand on top of the pond liner to protect it, and install a layer of coarse gravel or cobbles on top of the sand.
6. Install the pump and fountain head assembly in the location desired, usually in the center, or just off-center of the pond, depending upon the shape and effect chosen. Do route the cable carefully to avoid damage, sharp bends or kinks, and surround the fountain head structure carefully with rocks for an optimal aesthetic appearance. If a filter unit is included, locate the filter unit where it may be easily serviced, and camouflage it with rocks. Fill the pond with water and test the pump and fountain. Adjust the fountain heads as desired. Try different fountain heads for alternative patterns.
7. Note : *For the pondless version, install the reservoir, fountain pump and filter unit following the manufacturer’s instructions. Route the electrical cable carefully to avoid kinks or sharp bends. Route the pump discharge pipe to the fountain head assembly set up just below the projected surface level of the finished gravel surface. Fill the surrounding excavation with coarse rocks. Establish a layer of uniform cobbles or very coarse, free-draining gravel on the top surface level grade as desired. Ensure the fountain head is vertical, supported and camouflaged with rocks.
Fill the reservoir, “rock pond” and pump with water. Verify that the level of water over the pump is adequate and test the pump. Set up correctly, the water from the fountain will splash onto the gravel, disappear completely, draining into the rock-filled liner. The water will return to the pump reservoir, maintaining the water level in an endless cycle.
8. For either configuration, add colorful rocks of your choice to the surface or surrounding area as desired, covering all traces of the liner around the edges.
9. When completing the landscaping, do take the opportunity to install accent lights if desired. Modern solar garden lights and floodlights are easily placed.
10. Establish water-loving plants if desired and complete accent landscaping.
11. Be prepared to add water to maintain adequate water levels for the pump and fountain to operate correctly. Water is lost by evaporation.
12. For colder climates, do remember to carefully drain the pump and reservoir for the winter.
The fascinating sound of water falling over rocks or splashing back into a small pool from a fountain has always had the unique ability to generate a gentle, passive state of mind.
Now it is time to enjoy the magic you have just created. Sit back and watch the water sparkling in the sunlight, and listen to the peaceful sound of water falling in your very own private rock garden fountain !
Is that Incoming I hear?
Photo credit: Pinterest.com