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Guide to Successful Outdoor Garden Fountain Designs

Good outdoor garden fountain designs work together with the look and feel of the landscape. They meet the visual needs of their surroundings and do double-duty as either a backdrop element or primary focal point.

Discover the elements of successful outdoor garden fountain designs that incorporate water features into an already defined landscape.

Learn how to plan for the integration of a fountain and discover just how beneficial this water feature really is.

Water Features in Landscape Planning

Outdoor garden fountain designs complement the visual aesthetics and spatial setting of a yard. As such, the homeowner must include them in landscape planning before actually beginning work on the basic design.

The University of Missouri(1) advises residents who are ready to take this step to define their landscape needs first:

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  • Define the outdoor garden

Will it be the entire backyard, a corner, the front or side of the home? A garden fountain that becomes the focal point of a backyard should feature different sizing than one which will complement the flora at the side of the house.

  • List other possible landscape features

A fountain maybe just one of the additions that a homeowner plans on adding. Other options include benches, birdhouses, sculptures or chiminea.

  • Draw up plans

Integrate – on paper – the fountain into the mix of flower beds, trees, shrubs, grass areas, and paved walkways.

This step quickly reveals the most desirable size of the fountain and may also hint at possible materials to use and color schemes.

Nuts and Bolts of Fountain Design


The choice of material greatly depends on the place that the water feature takes within the landscape.

Possible designs include naturally looking rock piles that resemble the starting points of brooks or obvious sculptures that also offer spraying or dripping water features.

The cheapest material that offers the greatest design versatility is resin, which can be made to look like any natural characteristic or artistic rendering.

For the do-it-yourselfer (who wants to create a long-lasting outdoor garden feature) the use of concrete, an interior tub, and exterior rocks will most likely be the preferred method.

Other materials include ceramic, copper, stone and combinations of these items.


Color choices determine if a water feature becomes a garden focal point or merely complements an ambiance.

Neutral colors blend into the landscape and may highlight bold flower color displays.

Bright colors attract the viewer’s eye and may detract from an otherwise drab landscape, a rock garden or a seasonally dormant setting.


Fountain designs vary in levels of permanency. For example, some fountains are movable and may be placed on a patio and then moved from area to area.

Others anchor into a foundation to attach to below-ground piping systems.

The latter weighs significantly more than the moveable fountains but are more durable and likely last for decades.

Who Benefits from Outdoor Fountains?

It is interesting to note that the garden fountain is not simply a luxury for the homeowner. In fact, hospital gardens are getting back to including water features into their landscape planning.

The Interdisciplinary Design Institute(2) outlines that the soothing sounds of a running fountain successfully counteract the stress-inducing hustle and bustle of a busy hospital interior.

In fact, Phoenix’s Good Samaritan Hospital has used water features in the forms of pools and rocky paths as a metaphor for life.

Even patients who are unaware of the metaphoric meaning still enjoy the sometimes still and sometimes moving waters of the feature.

While visually pleasing outdoor garden fountain designs that complement the landscape greatly enhance the overall enjoyment of the outside, it is also noteworthy that they serve to provide a source of some coolness in hot summer temperatures and even attract wildlife(3).


  4. Photo Credit: “Fountain in the Town Gardens, Old Town, Swindon” by Foxhill/Wikimedia Commons at

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