I've always been fond of water features. Throughout the garden, saucers, hanging bird baths, and solar fountains are a big attraction for birds and other critters. One of my favorites was a wine barrel with a plastic liner that had water lilies in the summer and a small solar pump for that soothing sound.
Last year, though, there was trouble in paradise. We've always had problems with racoons in the neighborhood. Several people have swimming pools, others leave dog and cat food outside for there pets. Racoons love it, and come over to my place for dessert. Their favorite seems to be waterlily tubers. They take off all the leaves, upset the pots, all in an effort to get at the goods. They never did manage, but having a muddy mess off turned over pots was not appealing. Not to mention that the water lilies never bloomed last year. I tried a plywood cover at night, which got me more algae. I tried chicken wire, which was cumbersome to put on. I finally decided ENOUGH.
As I envisioned that area of the garden, my eye fell on the Chinese stool that our realtor gave us as a move-in gift. She shared a liking for dragons with Mr. Mouse and walked in with the stool not long after we moved in. What if I used that as the base for a bubble fountain?
More adventurous gardeners might have followed the instructions on one of the many fine home improvement sites you can find on the Internet, but for me the "install a fountain in 6 hours" projects always result in multiple trips to the hardware store - and 5 weeks later the project is still in shambles. I therefore decided to go for professional help. I started with a consultation with Chris, my garden designer, We decided to re-use the plastic barrel that had been inside the wine barrel as the reservoir, but she who told me about several things I had to pay attention to.
- Protect the water reservoir from dirt (mud flowing in during rains)
- Protect the water reservoir from debris from above
- Calculate the water flow to size the pump
First, they took out the wine barrel, and then they tapped down and leveled the hole.
The next step was putting in the barrel and the grate checking that things were level. With any water feature, it's important to check this early on.
During a rain, mud would flow directly into the barrel. To avoid that, we lined the hole with heavy-duty plastic.
We also added a ring of earth covered with plastic to further protect the reservoir.
The next step was to temporarily add the barrel and stones to cover the grate. We were still missing the screen above the grate and the pump, but we were happy to have gotten this far.
Stay tuned for part II of the project - and enjoy the dragon view in the year of the dragon