Lexington, KY – Flowing water looks cool and refreshing, its movement is sensuous, and its sound delightful and relaxing. At a deep level, we are conscious that water is essential to life, so its presence in the garden satisfies us more profoundly than we might realize.
Some of you may wish for the sight and sound of water in your landscape without the maintenance involved with a pond. A bubbler fountain is a surprisingly simple way to satisfy this desire. While I have installed these for clients, you could make this a do-it-yourself project, providing the perfect excuse to get outside in this wonderful fall weather.
There are pond stores in town with staff who can advise you on the details of your specific installation. Here are basic instructions that might just convince you that creating a bubbler fountain would be an enjoyable way to spend a day or two. While this project specifies the use of a millstone (real or faux), bubbler fountains can be constructed using many different objects, such as a boulder with a hole drilled through it, or a glazed pot.
Millstone Bubbler Fountain Project
Location considerations: Evaporation will be greater in direct sunlight, meaning you will have to replenish the water supply more often. Spots under a tree can mean a lot of leaf cleanup. Rocky or root filled soil may make it difficult to dig to the required depth. And, of course, you’ll need access to power. Choose a spot that is close enough to a grounded electrical outlet so you will not need to run an overly long extension cord. Most important of all, select a spot that is attractive and level.
Water reservoir: The basic design of a bubbling fountain involves placing a watertight container into a hole up to its rim, making sure the surrounding soil surface slopes slightly toward the container. This surrounding soil should be covered with rubber pond liner, placed with the edge of the liner extending over the edge of the water container and glued to the container, so the water that bubbles out over the millstone and surrounding small stones then flows back into the water container to be re-circulated (see diagram). You could also dig a hole one to two feet deep, with a diameter that is smaller than your millstone, and line the hole and the surrounding soil with rubber pond liner, with no other container required.
Pump apparatus: If possible, choose a submersible pump with the water output at the top, as this will make adding the rigid tubing easier. Get advice on the best pump size, then you can adjust the pump output to give you the desired effect. Place the pump into the water reservoir. Place a length of rigid pipe (usually supplied with the pump kit) on to the pump outlet. The center hole in the millstone will fit over this pipe. Cut the pipe to the required length so that it does not stick out above the stone.
Be sure that the millstone is level, so that the water flow over the surface will have that lovely, rippling effect.
Final touches: Arrange the rounded stones around the sides of the millstone, covering and extending somewhat beyond the surrounding pond liner. Plants can be installed in the stones that are beyond the pond liner, giving a more natural effect.
Winter care: Drain the bubbler of water for the cold weather months.
Since the water is moving, mosquitoes should not be an issue. If you are concerned, you could add a small piece of a mosquito dunk to the water periodically. Mosquito dunks will not harm people, pets, wildlife or fish.