How to Decorate Around a Water Fountain (9 Unique Ideas)

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How to Decorate Around a Water Fountain (9 Unique Decoration Ideas)

Garden fountain
A water fountain is a valuable addition to any type of pond. With a little bit of creativity, you can design a fountain that will perfectly suit your garden’s purpose! Acabashi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A testament to both art and engineering, a water fountain is one of the most attractive features you can use to naturalize both indoor and outdoor spaces. It can become a valuable addition to any type of garden in both the aesthetic and the ecological sense. When you think of a fountain, the image that comes to mind is often a marble structure with statuesque features. However, even a small fountain can be eye-catching and unforgettable with a nuanced selection of decorative features.

When designing with intent and a target audience in mind, coming up with a cohesive arrangement becomes more straightforward. Less can often be more when it comes to water fountains as the flow of water is a highly textural attraction in itself.

To help you accomplish a unique design that suits your space, factors to consider and some fantastic benefits of having water fountains are highlighted below. A handful of practical design ideas are enumerated as well. You’ll find that with a little bit of creativity, you can create a design that’s truly yours and that perfectly suits your garden’s purpose.

Five Factors to Consider When Decorating

1) Location

Small outdoor fountain in a back garden
Using understated decorations made of natural materials works great around outdoor fountains, as they are less likely to compete with the colors of nature. gardener41 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Your water fountain’s location will largely determine which decorations would be suitable. For example, one that is situated outdoors can be decorated with plants that have heavy light requirements and with other elements that must withstand rain, strong winds, or snow. One that is situated indoors may be decorated with inorganic materials that are chosen for their form instead of function.

The type of style that you would choose for your fountain setup should also complement its surroundings. If placed close to another water feature, such as a pond, it may be best to avoid decorations that may take attention away from fish or pond plants. Understated decorations, such as those made of natural materials, can look great outdoors as they are less likely to compete with the colors of nature.

2) Scale

Small fountain in a pond
You should think carefully about the size of your fountain decorations. A smaller fountain shouldn’t be cast in shade by other decorations, for example. Karen Roe / CC BY 2.0

Small or miniature fountains will require decorations that won’t simply cast them in shade or distract viewers from the flow of water. In contrast, large fountains can be made even more impressive with life-sized decorations. Before sourcing décor, make sure to obtain their dimensions and try to visualize how they would accentuate your fountain’s features. If you’ve already purchased items that are somewhat mismatched in size, experiment with where they are placed around the fountain. Larger ones can be used to add interest to the background, whereas smaller ones can spice up the foreground.

3) Style

Small garden fountain with statue
Your fountain should blend in with the rest of its surroundings, but draw just enough attention to be a focal point of your garden. anoldent / CC BY-SA 2.0

Depending on the design of your home or garden, you’ll want to style your fountain (keeping functional design parameters in mind) so that it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Rather, it should blend in with its surroundings, yet draw just enough attention to serve as an appealing focal point. Minimally decorated fountains can help naturalize a highly textural space. They can add just a touch of fluidity to an otherwise rigid space. On the other hand, fountains made of marble or smooth stone can be decorated with more complexly textured or formed items. Elaborate sculptures and rough foliage would complement its softer features.

4) Upkeep

Fountain lit up at night
Be aware that some fountain decorations, such as lights, can be very costly in the long run. Photo from

When choosing decorations, ensure that you are able to meet their demands in terms of regular maintenance and upkeep costs. A generous supply of lights around a fountain may seem charming in theory, but maintaining the electrical components and keeping them switched on for long periods of time can be extremely costly in the long run.

Some types of decorations will also require regular cleaning to prevent dust, algae, or bacterial mats from colonizing or discoloring their surfaces. Moreover, live decorations, such as vines and potted plants, may need to be pruned regularly. Anticipate the maintenance needs of each fountain accent before fully committing to their use. This is where practical judgment can truly come in handy.

5) Seasonality

Frozen garden fountain
Some fountain decorations may not last more extreme weather, such as exceedingly cold temperatures or persistent snow. Alexandre Duret-Lutz / CC BY-SA 2.0

Some fountain decorations may serve a seasonal rather than year-round interest. Exposure to exceedingly cold or hot temperatures or persistent rain or snow can damage them. A year’s worth of exposure to harsh elements can render them useless and diminish their value. This is most true with plants and organic decorations that require seasonal protection.

Decoration Ideas for Outdoor Fountains

1) Assorted plants

Fountain with plants around it
Plants are a great way to decorate your fountain as they soften any rough textures and add a splash of color. Jo Naylor / CC BY 2.0

If your fountain could use a splash of color, plants are the best outdoor decorations to consider. There are hundreds of species that would thrive under fountain spray. These will help soften any rough textures and are a cost-effective means of naturalizing any water features. Groundcover plants can create a beautiful base for the fountain itself, whereas potted plants can be used to mask any features that may appear unnatural. Their portability is also great for mixing and matching different types of species through the seasons.

Floating fronds, ferns, vines, grasses, and epiphytes are just some other plant types that would serve both aesthetic and functional purposes in or around a water fountain. They can help keep the water cool, prevent excessive algal growth, and provide shelter to visiting wildlife. Seasonal blooming periods can continuously alter the overall appearance of the fountain and attract a wealth of pollinators. The use of evergreen foliage, in contrast, warrants that color is retained throughout fall and winter.

Due to the sheer abundance of plant choices, it may be tough to pick out plants that would suit your fountain best. Narrow down your choices by aiming for native, water-loving species that are fairly resistant to diseases and would require less maintenance. These would save you considerable time and maintenance costs in the long run, as they can settle next to a water feature and tolerate local ambient conditions with ease.

2) Outdoor seating

Square garden fountain with a bench
A bench placed by a fountain offers a great spot to relax and clear a cluttered mind. Simon_sees / CC BY 2.0

Who wouldn’t want to spend hours comfortably gazing at and listening to their prized water fountain? Waterproof lawn chairs and tables can be placed just off of a fountain’s spray zone. From here, viewers can spend mild afternoons benefitting from the hypnotic quality of flowing water and the stress relief it affords. Fountain-side seating can provide much therapeutic value and may be the perfect scenario for clearing a cluttered mind.

While selecting for furniture, select for features that would complement the fountain’s form and size. The quaintness of a small fountain would be preserved by opting for minimal garden furniture. Try to go for those that are made of natural materials, such as wood or stone. Sculptural designs and pieces with vignettes may blend in next to opulently-themed fountains. Again, consider your primary design intentions before investing in furniture.

3) Boulders, rocks, and pebbles

Garden fountain with pebbles
Rocks & pebbles can be used around your fountain to create a rustic feel. Mark / CC BY 2.0

For a more rustic appearance or for the illusion of stillness, age-old weathering, and resistance to the elements, rocks of all sizes can be used. Their coarseness and organic shapes may add an architectural feel to water fountains, emphasizing smooth curves and contrasting the textures of other types of materials. These can be strewn along the base of the fountain, placed in the fountain basin or pool itself, or used to create a panel above which water may flow.   

4) Colorful accents

Fountain with vivid red flowers
Vivid colored accents around your fountain can draw attention and add character to your garden. Listener42 / CC BY 2.0

While minimal appliques and muted colors tend to be a trend with fountains these days, a vividly colored accent is certain to draw attention. It can also add character, shock value, or a dash of whimsy to the garden, truly setting it apart. Whether it be in the form of steel blue irises, a bright red modern sculpture, or a rainbow-colored dragon inspired by Oriental mythology, a single colorful accent can change the entire impression left by your fountain.

5) Metal décor

Metal water fountain
Fountains that are made of metal often become weathered and stained over time. Photo from

Copper is often used for fountains and its features due to its durability and natural appearance. You’ll find that many pond and fountain sculptures, especially tiny frogs and animal-shaped spitters, are made with metals. While initially spotless and impeccably shiny, these may often become weathered down and stained. If you must, make sure to invest in good-quality metal objects that won’t corrode, break down, and eventually contaminate the fountain water.

6) Birdhouses and baths

A bird resting by a fountain
A bird bathing in your water fountain is sure to brighten your day! You can encourage them to visit by adding bird baths or birdhouses. Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixabay

Water fountains are known for attracting all sorts of birds, tiny animals, and even deer. Watching a little bird bathe in fountain water can be a feast for the senses and can drastically brighten one’s outlook on life. It is an educational experience for children and a notably precious sight for adults. To encourage more birds to visit your water feature, you can place birdhouses and additional baths close by. Do note that you may have to clean up after them, especially if they choose to call your garden their home.

7) Pathways

Water fountain with stone path
A pathway made of natural stones is a great way to make a fountain look more inviting. Mark / CC BY 2.0

What better way to lure guests to your fountain than to create a pathway that leads directly to it or around it? Pathways made of natural stones can facilitate directionality in a garden, particularly large ones. It can make a fountain look more inviting, apart from serving as a stable walking path during heavy rains or snowfall.

For a consistent look, try to use building materials that are already present in the area. For example, a stone path may be more aesthetically pleasing than a brick one if your home or your fountain has a fair number of concrete features. As much as possible, the path shouldn’t outshine the fountain itself. Rather, it should subtly draw your eye to the flow of water.

8) Marble figurines

Marble statue
Marble figurines come in all shapes and sizes to suit your fountain. Photo from hippopx

With a reputation for withstanding the tests of time, marble figurines are perfect for decorating both outdoor and indoor fountains. As they come in all shapes and sizes, there’s one that will certainly complement your fountain’s theme and dimensions. You certainly don’t have to choose one that seems to have been carved off of Rome’s Trevi Fountain! Even a tiny marble frog can serve as the final missing piece to a gentle water feature. It would certainly look amusing next to its real counterparts, which are sure to make the occasional visit.

9) Lighting

Lit-up fountain at night
There are many lights to choose from for your fountain, ranging from plain white to multi-colored! Orin Zebest / CC BY-SA 2.0

Illuminated water features can be fantastic attractions for nighttime viewing. Whether they are placed within the fountain itself or around it, light fixtures should be fully waterproof for maximum longevity. The appearance of water rushing over a light source or reflecting outdoor light can be either lively or exceedingly peaceful. Accompanied by the sound of water, lights sustain the aesthetic value of a fountain all through the night.

Aquascaping stores should have a decent selection of plain white to multi-colored waterproof light fixtures. Some can even be controlled remotely to gradually change in color through the night. While it is unlikely that you will switch these on every single day, always review their wattage demands and consider the costs entailed by their frequent use. Moreover, keep in mind that these may attract a wealth of insects during warm months.

Benefits of Having a Water Fountain

Frog resting in a fountain
Water fountains are highly oxygenated sources of water if they don’t contain chlorine or chemical additives, and amphibians can sometimes be found resting in them! Image by Greenshire from Pixabay

Like most water features, fountains have great ornamental value. They can significantly alter the mood and complexity of both outdoor and indoor settings. According to Feng Shui beliefs, they can bring good fortune to a home or garden. Translated into realistic implications, this means that they can considerably increase the market value of one’s property while drowning out the sounds of nearby traffic. In terms of stress relief, both their audible and visual features impart relaxation and peace.

Apart from their aesthetic appeal, water fountains can be highly beneficial to wildlife. When devoid of chlorine and chemical additives, they can serve as highly oxygenated sources of water. Deer, rabbits, birds, and amphibians are likely to visit fountains in open properties. Also, as fountains are actively flowing, they can help regulate ambient temperatures and increase humidity. Combined, these benefits can result in the enhancement of air quality, leading to a better life!

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