Water Conservation and Outdoor Fountains: Eco-Friendly Practices.

outdoor fountains

Water-Wise Outdoor Fountains

Outdoor fountains are cherished for their tranquil sound, elegant style, and cool visual appeal. But operating a fountain does consume water – sometimes hundreds of gallons per month for larger installations. With drought and water scarcity affecting many regions, conserving water is an ethical imperative. You can still enjoy your outdoor fountains and reduce its environmental footprint through smart design and eco-friendly practices.

Choose the Right Fountain

The foundation of water conservation is matching your fountain style and size to your conditions. Small tabletop fountains use far less water than multi-tiered creations. Choose the smallest design that meets your needs.

For arid climates, select a recirculating fountain. The same water continually recycles from the basin through the fountain and back again. Evaporation is minimized.

Look for ENERGY STAR rated pumps designed for efficiency. Variable speed and low wattage saves power too.

Position Strategically

Site your fountain wisely to avoid excess evaporation and wind loss from misting. Tucked against the house or fences cuts water loss.

Place fountains out of direct sun whenever possible. Full sun exposure increases evaporation. Choose shady spots under trees or pergolas.

Use Alternative Water Sources

Get creative about sources for your fountain supply. Collect rain in barrels to fill your fountain. Direct gutter downspouts straight into the basin.

For larger ponds, route gray water from baths, washing machines or pools into the water feature for reuse. This recycles water already on site.

Adjust for Weather Conditions

Adapt fountain operation with the seasons and conditions to curtail water waste.

In dry times, run the fountain fewer hours per day or at lower flow. Completely shut off during drought.

Lower the fountain water level in winter to prevent freezing and damage. Insulate pipes and drain for extended freezes.

Practice Good Maintenance

Proper maintenance keeps water volume to a minimum in your fountain. Fix any leaks promptly to avoid the need for frequent top-offs.

Clean your fountain at least biweekly to remove debris, algae and slime that diminish appeal. This lets you hold off on water changes.

Use dyes, clarifiers and filters to extend time between full water replacement. Keep things circulating and fresh naturally.

Choosing Waterwise Plants

Surround your fountain with plants suited for low water conditions. Their naturally thrifty nature sets the tone for water conservation in your whole landscape.


Succulents like sedum, aloe and echeveria need minimal water once established. Their fleshy leaves store moisture. Use them as decorative accents around fountain basins.

Native Grasses

Ornamental grasses add texture and graceful movement with little irrigation required. Try low-water varieties like muhly grass or purple fountain grass.

Flowering Perennials

Many perennials favored for drought tolerance also bring vibrant, long-lasting color. Go with coreopsis, yarrow, gaillardia, lavender, salvias.

Waterwise Shrubs

For low maintenance structure, turn to shrubs adapted to dry conditions. Possibilities include dwarf oleander, rock rose, photinia, juniper, Texas sage.

Cacti & Succulents

Showcase spectacular spurges, agaves, yuccas and cacti in bold fountain plantings. Striking shapes and textures with ultra-low water needs.

Greywater Irrigation Methods

Recycling water already used at home drastically cuts fountain consumption. Capture greywater from sinks, tubs, washing machines to irrigate nearby landscape.

Laundry to Landscape

Attach a diverter kit to washing machine drain lines. Send water out to plants rather than the sewer. Use biodegradable detergent.


Collect sink and bath water in buckets when dirty. Directly pour out greywater around plants. No special equipment needed.

Branched Drain

Plumb a branching drain line from household greywater sources to outside. Valve allows flow to irrigation or sewer.

Constructed Wetlands

Channel greywater through a constructed treatment wetland or pond. Filtered water flows out to be reused in the garden.

Subsurface Irrigation

Distribute greywater below ground through a system ofFrench drains, leach lines or drip irrigation. No runoff.

Conserving Through Design

Thoughtful design offers ways to build water efficiency into your fountainscape:

Pool Cover

Cover the basin when not in use to minimize evaporation. Use a solid plastic cover or floating balls.


Recycle water from the basin back through the fountain feature again and again via closed loop pumping.


Set your fountain pump on an automatic timer. Operate only during peak enjoyment hours rather than continuously.

Basin Size

Choose the smallest basin size and water volume that suits your fountain design. Minimizes water needed.

Basin Design

Shallow, narrow basins reduce surface area and evaporation compared to wide designs. Plant densely around basin edges to provide a microclimate.

With planning, you can sustain the water tranquility water wall fountains offer while being mindful of each drop used. A balance of beauty and responsibility for the earth’s limited water resources.