Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon spent many years and covered many miles searching for the fabled "fountain of youth." Fortunately, you don't have to go to those lengths to find a special fountain that will transform your backyard into a private oasis. You only need to make a trip to the local garden store.
Water's ability to relax the human soul is virtually unmatched in the natural world. The gentle sounds of flowing water can wash stress from our lives, restoring and relaxing us. That universal appeal is making fountains more popular than ever with homeowners dealing with the stresses of modern life, including the economy and the need to hold on to and improve the homes they have.
The demand for fountains has led to the widespread availability of traditional designs, and some inspired modern creations by enterprising fountain makers.
"Our fountain category continues to grow," says designer Peter C. Cilio, creative director of Campania International, a purveyor of garden accessories. "Customers want cast stone fountains, glazed, terra cotta and even light-weight - all types of fountains to bring the sight and sound of water into the garden in an easy, low-maintenance way."
Jon Carloftis, renowned garden designer, agrees. "Water in the garden is an essential element," he says. "Adding a fountain to your garden, even a small fountain, is a great investment."
Here are some simple guidelines from the experts to help you choose the perfect fountain for your garden space:
What's your style?
The most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing the right fountain is the overall style of your home and garden.
"People who love a beautiful garden are becoming more experienced and comfortable with their own styles and tastes outside," says Cilio. "Whether you have an urban, contemporary or country garden, the fountain should be compatible with your personal style and the aesthetics of your house and garden."
Today's selection of fountains appeals to the broadest of palates, with choices available ranging from traditional European designs to more modern Zen-inspired pieces.
Carloftis reminds homeowners to keep proportion in mind. "It is everything in the garden," he says. "Choose a fountain that will fit and feel good. And if you go big, be sure to keep it simple."
Consider your space
Whether it graces a patio or the landscape, a free-standing fountain can be a mesmerizing focal point. The size of the fountain that you choose will depend on the size of your garden space.
"You could have a 4-by-6-foot pocket garden and put a small, beautiful fountain at the end, and you've really made an incredible statement," says Carloftis.
Although fountains can take center stage in the landscape, you might also consider nestling your fountain in a secluded corner of your garden. Tucked away among the plantings, the fountain will not distract from the overall composition.
What's your desired outcome? Dramatic or Zen?
If creating a highly dramatic effect is your desire, the classic choice is a larger two or three-tiered fountain as a focal point for your landscape. Carloftis suggests Campania's elegant Newport Fountain, which is a beautiful tiered composition made of cast stone with a lightweight basin for better maneuverability.
If you want something Zen, look for a more soothing effect in water gently cascading over a cast stone ball. Discover the allure of dancing water from a fountain lit at night, while you entertain on the patio or deck. Look for freestanding wall fountains, which include lighting components for dramatic nighttime illumination.
Low or high maintenance
Keeping your fountain clean and free of debris to prevent algae growth and clogging is something to consider when purchasing a fountain. Smaller fountains don't require as much maintenance as larger fountains. And remember to protect your fountain in winter with a water resistant cover to prolong its life.
Whether simple or ornate, you can create your own private oasis by introducing your own fountain of youth into your landscape or garden.
To view Campania International's wide selection of cast stone, glazed and lightweight fountains, visit www.campaniainternational.com.