The Garden Guide

Fountains - review

'Fountain' derives from the Latin fontis (a spring) but in gardens fountain are usually artificial.

Fountains give life to gardens. Splashing water, from fountain jets, siezes attention and enhances a garden's seclusion by drowning out city noise. A walled garden with a fountain becomes a sanctuary. Egyptian temple compounds had sacred lakes but it was the Romans' use of lead pipes which made plumbed fountains possible. Water could be ducted from a higher level and used to power fountains. In medieval and Islamic gardens fountains were placed in pools and used for washing. In renaissance and baroque gardens fountains became central features. Hydrological engineers were engaged to produce every more dramatic fountains. This trend reached a peak in great fountain displays requiring so much water that they could be usedonly for a few hours a week, usually when there were guests to impress. The possibilities for fountains, which can be used in combination, include:

  • vertical water jets, single or multiple
  • inclined water jets, single or multiple
  • interacting water sprays
  • water columns, frothing or thrusting
  • mist sprays
  • bubble fountains
  • dripping fountains
  • waterfalls, simple or complex
  • water channels, rectilinear, curvilinear or irregular
  • sculpture fountains



Water column

Waterfall and water spray

Water jet

Classic fountain

Fountain spray on sculpture