I never thought I’d be a fountain guy. When we bought our current house nearly 17 years ago, one of the conditions on our offer was that the owner had to remove a fountain from the property. How times change. Now I’m apparently hooked on buying cheap solar fountains from Amazon…
Trying to Solve a Problem
This fountain business all started when we MacGyvered a big birdbath in the depths of the back yard, repurposing an old fire bowl, the trunk of a large maple tree that was recently cut down due to disease, and some chunks of limestone leftover from landscaping. Scrub out the old fire bowl, mount it to the top of the trunk, position the rocks to provide perches, fill with water, and voila! A decorative and functional birdbath.
It also turned out to be a very popular mosquito breeding ground. One of the ways to prevent this is to have the water moving—a fountain. But without easy access to power and no water hookup that far from the house, there weren’t many options that didn’t involve a lot of cost and effort. Until I gambled on a cheap solar fountain from Amazon.
There are tons of these things, and from what I can see, it looks suspiciously like there are really only a few variations, all coming form the same factory but under different brand names. The basics are a lightweight pump and a solar panel. The first one I bought I went with a submersible pump connected to a freestanding solar panel, so I could nestle the pump in among the rocks in the birdbath and position the solar panel for maximum sunlight. I paid $20.99 Canadian—that’s like under $15… No batteries, the pump runs when the panel is in sun and stops when it’s not.
And the fountain worked really well. Shockingly well. The water will spray two feet in the air in bright sun. Birds love it. Cardinals will hang out in there for five minutes at a time. What it didn’t do is get rid of the mosquito larvae. I guess the water has to run 24/7 to prevent egg laying. So we had to resort to pet and bird-friendly Mosquito “dunk” which does the job…
Turns Out They Look and Sound Nice, Too
The look and sound of the fountain was a hit. Sure, I may have to refill the bird bath daily if wind catches the spray, or a nozzle clogs sending a jet off to the side, but the look, sound, and bird attraction are worth it.
So next we put a simple pot in the middle of a garden that needs frequent watering in heat waves, ordered a floating solar fountain ($22.95 Canadian or about $16), filled the pot with water, and let the fountain float around. It’s completely self-contained, sounds great, adds a nice visual feature, and any spray that goes outside of the pot helps to keep the nearby plants watered. That turned out so well I ordered another, and put it in a container of water on the deck. It’s relaxing to hear the water gurgling away when sitting on the deck having a coffee and reading the morning news.
Really Inexpensive and Easy Garden Upgrades
The long and short of all this is that solar technology has progressed to the point now where a small, inexpensive panel can generate the power needed to drive a small water pump—with the entire investment being $20 or less. These things aren’t perfect, but they sure are an easy way to add a water feature to a yard, garden, or deck. I haven’t tried to restart one after winter storage, so who knows how long they’ll last. But at that price, I’m willing to find out.
I don’t have a specific model to recommend. I bought mine from Amazon’s Canadian site and the models offered on the main site have different brand names (although, as mentioned, they all look suspiciously as though they came off the same assembly line). If you’re looking for one, I’d just check for consistently high ratings, and you should easily be able to pick up one that does the job for $20 or less.
If you want to get fancy (as in $10 more fancy), there are versions with LED lighting and battery backup, but I haven’t tried those out. At this point, I’m content to have the water flow when it flows, and we already have plenty of LED lighting back there.