8 Things to Consider Before Adding a Water Feature to Your Yard

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated December 20, 2021
fountain in the middle of garden patio
Photo: Jamie hooper / Adobe Stock

You’ll gush over this soothing yard upgrade

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Your property is peaceful and pretty, but something is missing. By installing a water feature—whether a wall-mounted spout vase, birdbath-style fountain, koi pond, standard pond, or fountain—you’ll add soothing sounds and tranquil beauty. Read on for what to consider before making this landscaping investment. 

1. Your Property’s Size

Your water feature should be the right scale for your yard. A small pond might work well on a two-acre lot but would dominate a postcard-size area.

2. Your Yard’s Layout

water fountain in backyard
Photo: Natalia Bratslavsky / Adobe Stock

Think about the organization of your outdoor space to plan your water feature location. If you’d like to hear the trickle of water from your office, for instance, place your fountain outside that window.

Avoid putting a water feature in the way of existing plants and future, patios, or walkways. You might also want to steer clear of overhanging trees and shrubs, which could drop leaves into the water feature and clog its drain.

3. Your Budget

You can land a water feature at any budget, from very little for a DIY fountain or pond kit to thousands for a custom-designed install by a fountain installer or landscaping company.

Keep in mind that if you’re dreaming of a larger water feature, you’ll probably need to hire a local electrician to install a GFCI outlet and, if necessary, upgrade your circuit panel. (Smaller water features can often run off solar energy.)

4. Your Desired Sound

wall fountain in yard
Photo: photo 5000 / Adobe Stock

Decide what type of sound you’d like to enjoy in your backyard. If you’re trying to drown out noisy neighbors, you might want a gushing waterfall or tall fountain. If you’d prefer a subtle trickle or gentle splashes, opt for a stream or quiet fountain, like a raised basin with a bubbler or aerator.

5. Your Style

You can make your water feature blend in with nature by installing a water feature made of stone or bamboo. You can also add contrast with a sculptural fountain in ceramic, concrete, acrylic resin, copper, or fiberglass. Either way, make sure your water feature’s style and material will mesh well with your property.

6. Your Desire for Aquatic Life

garden with shallow pound
Photo: Jamie Hooper / Adobe Stock

If you’d like to create a goldfish pond, you can go with a depth of just two feet. However, for a koi pond, the depth must be four feet or more. Keep in mind that if your area is home to large water birds, they could eat your water feature’s fish.

7. Whether You’ll Need Permits

You’ll likely need to file a permit for a large water feature. In addition, your homeowner’s association might have regulations regarding this type of improvement, so be sure to check with your HOA.

8. Your Ability to Do Maintenance

All water features require some maintenance. Here are some tasks to keep in mind if you install a water feature:

  • Cleaning: Drain and clean your fountain monthly.

  • Winterizing: If you live in an area with hard freezes, you’ll need to winterize your set-up. In preparation for the cold months, bring inside pumps and fountains in materials that crack (like ceramic) and drain the water.

  • Algae Control: Ask a local gardener for advice about preventing algae from growing in your water feature. 

  • Check Water Levels: Guard against a pump overheating by checking the water level each week and making any necessary adjustments. 

  • Debris Removal: On a regular basis, remove large debris to avoid clogging pump filters.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.