Maintaining this spectacular showpiece takes surprisingly little time.

water fountain in garden surrounded by flowers
Credit: Jacky Parker/Getty Images

Install a fountain in your backyard, and it immediately becomes the focal point of your garden (so many birds!) and a stress reliever (that sound of gently trickling water!). If you want this treasure to last-and the flowing water to remain clear-it's crucial to clean out the fountain regularly; fortunately, it doesn't take much time or effort.

Clean the fountain at least once a month.

Many factors (including wind, dirt, mineral deposits, and bird droppings) can dirty your fountain, so you'll want to give it a gentle scrub once a month, or whenever you notice it's getting a little gunky, says Kaitlin Hansen of Serenity Health & Home Décor, a company that specializes in relaxation products for the body and home. After turning off the fountain, remove the pump and set aside. Next, empty the water from the fountain, then fill a bucket with fresh water and a non-toxic cleaner that won't harm children, pets, birds, or wildlife. Using a soft cloth or nonabrasive sponge, clean the inside and outside of the fountain. Neglecting its upkeep may cause a buildup of white scale or algae, which could cause it to malfunction or become smelly and slimy. If algae becomes a frequent problem, Hansen suggests using an algaecide or adding some white vinegar to the water in the basin to keep growth under control.

Take care of the pump.

The pump is the lifeblood of any fountain. Cleaning it thoroughly will keep your water feature from developing an unpleasant odor. After removing it from the fountain, put the pump into an empty sink, open the cover on the back, and use a wet toothbrush to gently scrub away debris. Run the pump under a vigorous stream of water to rinse; use soap and water to clean the outside of the pump. Replace the cover and attach the pump back into the fountain.

Be aware of flying objects.

After a windy or rainy day, check your fountain for leaves, grass clippings, sand, and other debris that may have collected in the basin, and use a soft cloth and water to wipe everything out. Besides getting rid of the many bits and pieces that could land in the basin, it's a good idea to empty it and add fresh water every day or every other day.

Remove white residue.

White scale is caused by a calcium buildup from hard water. To remove them, turn off the fountain and brush the white spots gently with a cloth and white vinegar. When you run the water again, the white spots should wash away.

Take precautions during the cold season.

Before the temperatures get in the freezing zone, drain the fountain of any remaining water; not doing so could freeze the water and crack the fountain itself. Next, unplug the pump and store it indoors. Put a secure cover over the fountain to protect it from winter's harsh elements.


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