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5 Tips for Maintaining Garden Fountains

Without regular care, a bubbling fountain can quickly go from lovely to grubby. Follow these steps to properly care for your garden fountain.

An ornate fountain in a garden iStock

How to Maintain Outdoor Fountains

Get rid of grime

Dirt and debris wear on the fountain's surface. Once a month, bail out gritty water (or siphon it off with a wet-dry vac). Then, wipe the interior with a soft cloth or sponge, and scrub off any buildup with vinegar and a soft-bristled nylon brush; wipe clean and refill.

Put on socks

Slip an old nylon stocking over the pump and its intake to keep out stray dirt.

Fight buildup

Each time you refresh the water supply, add a clarifier to deter algae growth and a scale and stain remover, following the label directions on dosage (it depends on your fountain's capacity). Double the normal amount if you notice algae or scale that persists. In warmer months, when algae grow more readily, add a time-release algaecide in tablet form about once every three weeks.

Don't let it run dry

Your pump could overheat if the water level's too low, so keep an eye on it, especially if you've had a string of hot, dry days.

Use chlorine only if needed

Fountain pumps aren't designed to work with concentrated levels of chlorine, but if an algae bloom won't die down, add 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach for every 5 gallons of water, and run the pump overnight so it circulates long enough to disinfect the entire system.