Water fountains are simple, stunning, and come in a large variety of configuration and design. There are many sizes available, from large yard fountains to table top ones.
Over the years I've noticed that truly great landscapes almost all share one thing in common, water fountains. Large or small, natural or man made, these features go a long way in creating a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere in the garden, or wherever you want to introduce the sight and sound of running water. Besides the sensual pleasures they provide, they also give a cool refuge to birds and other small animals. Understanding how fountains work, and taking a brief look at some of the design options available, is a useful exercise.
At first glance, water fountains seem sort of mysterious as to how they work. How does the water keep flowing over and over without stopping? I suppose that's part of the allure. It is a pretty simple process. The water is in a reservoir that provides a place for the pump to be. The pump moves the water along inside a tube that is routed to the top of the fountain, or wherever the water is meant to start it's journey back to the reservoir, where it is then re-circulated over and over. Usually the tube cannot be seen because it is either built into the fountain, or is hidden under or behind rocks, plants, and other items. Once the basics are understood, it is easy to see how water fountains can be made as basic or as deluxe as needed.
One of my sisters bought a small bamboo trickler fountain last year for her small sitting garden. It looked great until the dog got a hold of it. It just couldn't hold up under that sort of abuse. Not all water fountains are created equal, and for Mother's Day this year she got a new, larger, and more suitable design to replace it. It's a more traditional molded, multilayered design that the dog is going to have a lot tougher time ruining (though I suspect she will try). Dogs and destruction aside, the point is that anyone considering getting a fountain for outdoor use should really give some thought to not only the size and placement of the fountain, but also to the elements and other impacts that it will have to endure.
Water fountains come in many shapes and sizes and there's nothing like a large one to really get your attention. One of my favorite designs is the pondless variety. These usually have water running down, over, under, and around rocks and other natural items, all ending up in a reservoir that is covered in rocks (for the large outdoor types), or with marbles or small decorative glass or rocks (for the indoor table top varieties). Another design that is very popular is the classic fountains that look like bird baths. These often have water spouts and are quite dramatic and pleasing. They can make a nice center piece to that special corner of the garden, or can make a stunning entry way focal point.
Everyone loves water fountains. Don't let the mystery of how they work keep you from getting, and enjoying, your very own. Consider where you want to locate it, how it will be used, what stresses it may have to endure, then go for it. You will love having one in your life.