Moving Water

Water features have a naturalizing influence on a place, bringing birds, frogs, fish, and beneficial insects closer to home. And the sound of moving water isn't just calming, it can mask less desirable noise like road traffic and neighbors' mowers.

The Goodwins' stream runs right by the French doors in back, leading to a waterfall and koi pond at one end, and at the other to a fountain made from bluestone pavers stacked like books—appropriate to the home of a pair of writers. The water features can be seen from most downstairs areas of the house, and heard even from the second—story bedrooms. Water—loving frogs herald spring, and birds come through all winter long. "The great thing has been how it's made us much more connected to nature, and to the changing seasons," says Doris.

Though water elements are commonly made from free-form synthetic rubber liners or premolded fiberglass forms, the Goodwins' is constructed like a gunite swimming pool, with the filter above ground (and screened from view); pipes are built in to recirculate the water.

Fountain Building Know-how
A fountain can be as simple as a concrete birdbath, a terra-cotta urn, or a stone trough fitted with a recirculation pump and a length of tubing to send the water upward. For safety, a pump should always be plugged into an outdoor GFCI outlet.

Protect the pump's longevity
To keep from shortening the life of a submersible pump, never let the water level drop so its housing is exposed. In areas prone to a hard freeze, bring the pump inside until spring unless you plan to heat the water basin or keep the fountain running all winter. Indoors, store it submerged in water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to prevent calcification.

Calculate the power you need
The average pump found at a garden center will suffice for a tabletop fountain. But for a larger–scale installation, look for one that can recirculate 15 to 20 gallons of water per minute.

Create the look of a ground-source spring. For a natural-looking DIY installation, a "pebble fountain" can be built at ground level so that the water drains back to an underground basin. Check out the illustration above to see how a stacked-stone pebble fountain could be constructed.

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