15 Types of Fountains to Class Up Any Home, Garden, or Business
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
The different types of fountains out there offer you a wide variety of options to suit your unique needs and desires. Whether you're looking to add a fountain in a garden, indoors, or on a patio, you can get exactly what you want.
A cool breeze, the sound of birds chirping, accompanied by the soothing trickle of water—sounds heavenly? No, we’re not describing some oasis calm in exotic lands far, far away—this could very well be your own backyard and all by simply adding a water fountain.
A well-placed water fountain can instantly elevate the look of any garden, in addition to raising its market value, attracting birds and wildlife and bringing an instant sense of relaxation.
The ancient Greeks, Mesopotamians and Romans definitely realized these facts—fountains have been a significant, aesthetic part of these societies since 3000 BC. Fast forward to today and there are more fountain types than one knows what to do with.
Indoor, solar, cascading, birdbaths, to LED fountains—the array of fountain types can be more-than-a-little overwhelming and possibly even slightly dizzying, especially if you’re looking for one to adorn your backyard or home.
15 Types of Fountains
Worry not—we’ve got your back with this ultimate guide on the types of fountains there are to make the choice much easier.
Spouting fountains are the Bette Davis of the fountain world—extremely dramatic (All About Eve, anyone?). These fountains have pipes that shoot water into the air, creating quite a grand, striking effect.
Spouting fountains are extremely common and also the most common image that comes to mind when you think ‘fountain’. Spouting fountains are easy to install, requiring only a constant water source for the spouting.
These fountains can even be installed over ponds—something that many folks like to do, even installing man-made ponds for this. These fountains are also easy on the pocket.
Additionally, spouting fountains can be paired with a statue, letting the water spray from a spot on the statue. Alternatively, you can add a nozzle to let the water spray in specific patterns, such as bubbles and rings.
The next most popular type of fountains, self-contained fountains are all kinds of affordable, easy to install and gorgeous.
Featuring their own water reservoirs, pump and plumbing (hence, “self-contained”), you don’t need a pond or pool for these fountains; all you need is level land and sometimes, a power source.
Self-contained fountains are very commonly placed on patios and decks, as they’re quite space efficient and don’t need a large area or even a fixed, dedicated spot, nor do they require much installation work.
These fountains can be made of fiberglass, stone or ceramic; depending on the material, they can be either lightweight or heavy.
Tiered fountains are the most traditional types of fountains, especially popular in the Mediterranean regions, adorning many plazas and courtyards.
These garden fountains have multiple tiers (generally three), with water pumped to the topmost tier internally to then cascade over the tiers externally into the bottom reservoir—and repeat.
These fountains can simply be three flat plates of increasing sizes stacked together in a tier or feature elaborate carvings.
Tiered fountains are excellent choices for classical or traditional landscapes, easily stealing the spotlight with their grandeur and elegance.
Remember, the further the tier, the louder the sound of water (simple physics!), so bear this in mind if you’re looking for a quiet, gentle, relaxing fountain.
Wall fountains, as the name suggests, can be integrated into a wall, making them a great choice for small patios, courtyards, or in your mega mansions across the world.
By nature, these fountain types are extremely space efficient and can also be customized according to the wall. Such fountains are available in a range of styles—Asian, modern, antique and so on.
Wall fountains require a water basin, a pump, a spout and internal tubing. They can be either mounted or freestanding—the former is integrated into a wall, letting it blend with the landscape, whereas the latter, also known as a ‘floor fountain’, is large and placed on the ground.
Wall fountains can be used indoors and outdoors and are quite easy to install. If you’re short on space, these fountains are a definite must consider.
Disappearing / Endless / Pondless Fountains
Disappearing fountains are unique fountains that don’t require any visible water features or ponds to function—they require, instead, an underground water source, resulting in a truly impressive end effect.
Pondless types of fountains, in addition to their “magical” functioning, also generally feature striking pieces of arts, such as urns, various types of columns, and sculptures, all of which further add to the appeal.
Besides the aesthetic appeal, these fountains are also convenient, as you don’t have to worry about algae growth or debris in the water source or evaporation—ergo, less maintenance.
They’re also quite safe and don’t present a drowning hazard for pets or children and are quite space efficient too, making them well suited for small spaces.
If you’re installing a disappearing fountain, ensure that the ground is even. These fountains, once installed, can draw attention easily to the area where they’re situated.
In today’s age of innovation, it really comes as no surprise that solar-powered fountains are a thing. These could be any type of fountain (tiered, cascading, Japanese, and so on), with the defining factor being that they’re powered by solar energy.
Therefore, you don’t need to hook these up to any electrical outlets, which is a great advantage when you have a large backyard or whatever types of gardens and don’t want to spend extra money (or power) on a suitable extension cord.
It’s no exaggeration—99% of the gardens in Japan have a fountain. While the result is a calming, beautiful oasis, fountains, since times immemorial, have been a symbol of spirituality and physical cleansing in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Also found in Japanese temples and other spiritually significant spots, Japanese fountains commonly feature bamboo spouts down which water trickles into a basin that is surrounded by rocks, ferns and plants.
Bigger spaces even add a pond or stream and types of koi fish to complete the look.
Swimming Pool Fountains
If you’ve got a pool, you should consider swimming pool types of fountains. You'll add an entire new level of enjoyment to your experience.
These fountains can add a whole new level of fun and excitement, especially when paired with colorful LED lights—kids paradise by day and pool-party paradise by night (or great views at the very least, if you’re not a social butterfly).
You can place a swimming pool in various parts of the pool—you can place one in the middle and have it shoot up water or on the side, too. However, none of them come cheap, so be prepared for the heavy investment.
All kinds of elegant, these subtle fountain types feature gently-flowing streams of water between levels.
Most folks use ‘cascading’ and ‘tiered’ interchangeably—fair enough, as tiered fountains are technically a kind of cascading fountain. However, cascading fountains feature rocks and steps, instead of clear-cut layers.
Water flows from the top of the fountain, cascading down levels of rocks (generally three levels) to the bottom. Each level features a basin and gets progressively bigger. These fountains are great if a relaxing vibe and effect are what you’re after.
Waterfall fountains are miniature waterfalls, imitating the feel and look of actual waterfalls.
Though relatively big in size, these fountains are among the most popular, extremely beautiful and used as much indoors as outdoors.
Some waterfall types of fountains can be complicated but simpler versions are also available. You can find them relatively cheaply or expensively made from various types of marble, for instance.
These fountains are for the bird lovers and nature lovers, attracting birds to drink and bathe in your fountain while making for a superb centerpiece in your garden area.
These fountains are easy to install and maintain and not very expensive either.
While most folks associate fountains with the outdoors, indoor fountains are very much existent. You'll find these in large places of business or in many types of mansions, even to this day.
Indoor fountains have become quite popular over the last few years, with many folks enjoying the sense of calm, soothing and peace that the sound of the running water brings. The sound also aids in bringing concentration and focus.
Where earlier these fountains were a little bit of a rarity, there are many types of fountains for indoor areas available today—you’ll be able to find one, whether ornate, simple, stylish or whatever your need.
Digital Curtain Fountains
As the name suggests, these are curtains of water, possible thanks to software-controlled water jets that create screens of water. You can even show different messages, patterns and designs on these screens.
These fountains aren’t grounded, designed to be mobile while remaining controlled thanks to fastening cables that ground them to the bottom. Though the technology is efficient and simple, these fountain types create a truly impressive end result.
Dry fountains are playful and interactive, with devices to control the jets of water. The jets are placed at ground level and spring up at timed intervals or when someone walks by them, triggering the sensor.
Types of Fountains for Every Estate
It may seem like fountains are all the same, but as you’ve seen, there are different types of fountains, each unique in its own right.
While picking out a fountain for your yard, bear in mind the available space, the availability of a water source, how much maintenance you’re willing to do, your budget and of course, your preferences.
With all the knowledge we’ve spouted, picking out the right types of fountains is going to be a piece of cake, so go show off your newfound fount of knowledge and get shopping already.