How to choose a water fountain

How to Choose a Water Fountain

Adding a water fountain to your outdoor space is a great way to bring movement and sound to your garden. They are good for purifying the air and creating a calm and relaxing atmosphere. With so many styles and options to choose from, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the right one for you.


What type of water fountain is best for your space?

Water fountains come in all shapes, sizes and materials, each one bringing a unique look and feel to your garden. Here are some of the styles you can choose from:

  • Wall fountain - Create an impressive focal point with a wall water fountain. The Cascades of water running down a wall of stainless or corten steel create a great backdrop for any garden.
  • Fountains - This traditional style of water fountain is great for creating a focal point in a large lawn or driveway. They come in many styles and sizes and they also attract birds who will bathe in the trickling water.
  • Jugs, vases and tubs - A great option for smaller gardens, rockeries or adding a unique feature to a bed or border, sphere water fountain come in a variety of shapes and colours. These fountain emit relaxing sounds of gently bubbling water and provide a mesmerising stream.
  • Cascades - A cascade water fountain sees the water flowing between different levels. These are often bowls, tiers or buckets that create interesting centrepieces. Cascade fountains come in many styles, from novelty dioramas to sleek copper cups or stone bowls. They are suitable for any sized garden and the wall-mounted varieties are great for balconies or small urban spaces.
  • Fountain planters - These water fountains are perfect for adding additional greenery wherever you place them. Great for smaller gardens or for just adding soothing sounds to social space or garden bed. 
  • Statues & Figurines -  If you want a more decorative flair in your garden, then a statue or figurine water fountain is a good choice. Whether you want a graceful statue to tie a traditional garden together or to add some character with a fairy house or wishing well; the options are endless, and you can be sure there will be something for every garden. 

What’s better: Solar- or Mains-powered water fountains?

We’ve listed out the benefits and considerations of solar power and mains power so you can make the best decision for your garden. 

Solar : 

  • Quicker and easier to install - there is no need to call out an electrician, no need to dig or lay cables, just choose a sunny spot and go
  • Can be placed anywhere - provided there's daylight!
  • Environmentally friendly - solar power is a form of energy that is self-sustaining and requires no power from fossil fuels
  • Saves you money -  requires no mains power which will save  on your electricity bills


  • Better for larger water fountains - larger water fountains have higher energy requirements so a mains connection is required for reliable usage
  • Allows for prolonged use - solar panels only last as long as they have stored up power and will only work if there is good weather. Mains water fountains will keep working as long as they are turned on
  • Works at night & in the winter - mains powered water fountains will work in any weather and in limited sunlight, allowing you to keep  relaxed atmosphere in your garden whenever you are outside
  • May require outdoor cabling - in order to keep your water fountain powered safely, you may need outside cabling and plug sockets installed. Please consult an electrician before installing outdoor electrics

Caring for your water fountain

  • Keep the water topped up - If the reservoir runs dry then you may cause damage to your pump that can’t be cheaply fixed. As a rule of thumb keep the water level above your pump at all times, but the more water you have the more reliable the flow. In the summer months top up regularly as the water will evaporate quicker.
  • Avoiding algae build up - Algae grows easily in water and forms clumps of thick weeds that clog up pumps and water channels. Over time the water will turn green and eventually stain the water fountain. If you can, you should empty and replace the water in the reservoir every month or so in the summer. Alternatively, you should use wildlife-friendly water treatment to keep the water clear.   
  • Clean your pump - Most modern pumps come with built-in filters to reduce the risk of leaves and other debris getting through but it’s a good idea to give it a once over with a sponge or toothbrush to make sure they stay as clean as possible.
  • Regularly change the water or use a water cleaner- Keeping the water algae-free will help extend the life of your pump as it will help prevent deposits from building up inside the pump.
  • Caring for your water fountain in winter
  • Frost and freezing temperatures can really damage water fountains, so special care in the winter is required
  • Add frost protection - You can prevent your water from freezing by adding frost protection. Ensure you use a wildlife-friendly solution to keep pets and birds safe.
  • Drain the water - When frozen water expands it can damage your water fountain. To stop this happening, drain the water before the first frost hits.
  • Buy a  UV and frost protective cover - These provide insulation and protection against the elements that protect the fountain during the colder months.

There are a lot of things to consider when buying a water fountain, we’ve answered some of your most commonly asked questions below.


Do I need to buy a reservoir?

Most water fountains circulate water from a reservoir or pond, but in some cases, you will need to buy the reservoir separately. When buying a water fountain you should always check to see if it comes with a self-contained reservoir or not. If you do need to buy a reservoir always check what other equipment you may need to install it.  

Both types of water fountain work very well but have some key differences. 

  • Self-contained - Self-contained water fountains can be placed anywhere in the garden as they don’t need to be near a reservoir, allowing you to add water and movement to a rockery, patio, balcony or raised area.
  • Reservoir -  A water fountain with a reservoir requires more labour intensive installation, but allows you to have bigger fountains in your garden. They need refilling less regularly and provide an opportunity for garden design as they can be covered up with stones, rocks or plant displays.

Why Doesn’t My Water Fountain Have a Plug?

Some of our water fountains are supplied without plugs because they require professional installation. This can involve trunking a cable if burying in the ground, hand wiring or the installation of an outdoor mains circuit. This should be done by a trained electrician who can supply the best fixtures for your home to guarantee the safest and most reliable results. 

Please Note:  Primrose always recommends getting a qualified electrician to do any electrical work that may be needed when installing a water fountain.

How Much Water Does a Water Fountain Use? How Often Should I Top It Up?

Another running cost associated with water fountains is water usage, most water fountains are either designed for pond use or self-contained, which means they don’t need to be connected to a mains water supply. While they will need topping up occasionally with freshwater, especially in hot weather when the water evaporates quickly, the water use associated with most of our water fountains is minimal.

Please Note: With all water fountains containing a pump it is important to keep the water fountain topped up when running – this is because the pump must remain submerged when switched on. If the pump emerges from the water due to evaporation, this has the potential to cause damage to the pump and reduce its lifespan.

How Much Electricity Does a Water Fountain Use? Can It Be Left On?

The amount of electricity a water fountain uses is generally dependent on the pump type and size, specifically the wattage of the pump attached to the water fountain. 

To calculate how much a water fountain will cost to run per hour, simply enter your cents per kWh electricity rate, found on your electricity bill, and times it by the wattage on the product page. For example if we take one of our larger water fountains , the Stone Effect Regal Three Tier Fountain we can see it has has a Pump Wattage of 12W, so times that by the average UK electricity rate of roughly 13c per kWh and we get a cost of 0.16 cents per hour, or 3.7 cents a day if left running constantly. This translates to less than a fan or electric heater, so it doesn’t cost as much as you might think.

Of course, if you opt for a solar water fountain, you won’t have to worry about running costs.

When Will a Solar Water Fountain Run and Not Run?

Solar water fountains are great in that they are entirely self-contained, however, due to their reliance on the sun’s rays, there are certain situation where they won’t run, for example on overcast days or at night. You can extend the period time a solar water fountain will function by purchasing one with a battery back up, this can store up to three hours of pump life in the battery. However, it is important to note that in order to charge the battery the fountains must be left in prolonged sunlight for a period of time, so even solar water fountains with a battery backup may not have much life in the winter months.