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Indoor Fountains
by Jerry Filipski
by Jerry Filipski


Gerald (Jerry) Filipski is the gardening columnist for the Edmonton Journal, a position he has enjoyed as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Jerry also writes for Canadian Gardening, the new Alberta Gardener as well as for the lifestyle magazine of P&O ferries. Jerry also does numerous public speaking engagements including some major gardening conferences and workshops as well as question and answer sessions for Wal-Mart and Rona.

December 2, 2001

Small scale indoor waterfalls and fountains are being welcomed by condominium owners. If you have ever spent time gazing into a lake, exploring tidepools along the coast or watching a stream tumble over pebbles and stones, you know how calming and relaxing water can be. In a condo setting where large outdoor water features are just not possible many people are turning to an indoor fountain to bring the beauty and tranquility of nature indoors.
It seems that in today’s high-tech and high stress lifestyle a return to nature even in its simplest form is a welcome relief. The calming effects of water have been known for centuries. Greg Christiansen from Christiansen Developments says that, “the white noise produced by water offers a feeling of privacy for many condo owners. Many condo owners come from single family homes and as they get older are less tolerant of noise.” Greg says the fountain or waterfall helps to mask outside noise. “From an engineering point of view, noise reduction is important,” Christiansen says.
Doctors, dentists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists are among those who set a relaxing office tone with murmuring fountains. The natural element helps people slow down. They've discovered fountains create a calming environment. Jennifer Hollibaugh from the Bay Area Speech and Language Center in San Diego says, “When sitting near our office fountain, autistic kids stop pacing. Their eyes are clear, not glassy. The children are less anxious and make fewer high-pitched shrieks."
With this type of calming effect it is small wonder, as Glenn Harrison of Fountain Pumps Inc. says, that, “forecasters note that 4% of homes in America have a water feature--table top fountains, aquariums, outdoor ponds or pools, for example. They say by 2006 that percentage will be 20%. Like aquariums, fountains are here to stay.”
Along with this increased interest in water features comes an increased demand for indoor plants that are used to decorate the fountains and waterfalls. Creating an indoor oasis of plants and water cannot help but make our Canadian winters that much more bearable.
Just ask Shirley Davidson. Shirley is an apartment condominium owner who considers her fountain, “ a focal point of her home. It does have a calming effect but it was the appearance that first appealed to me.” Shirley says an added benefit is,” it increases the humidity in my home. Low humidity is a problem in my apartment especially during winter.”

Top 5 Health Benefits of Fountains

  • Cleans the air by pulling in particles, lint, dust, pollutants and offer a source of fresh oxygen from lush plants near the fountain

  • Helps you relax into sleep. Why play a sleep aid tape of mountain brooks? Calm and refresh you by bringing nature sounds indoors.

  • Lifts your spirits with a visually pleasing sight in home or office.

  • Humidifies dry air and gives your nostrils a break.

  • Creates a sound filter as flowing water masks computer and machine noise.

Build Your Own?

It’s easier than you might think to construct your own fountain or even waterfall. What you will need:

  • Initial expense is for a small submersible pump with a water flow regulator and some plastic tubing. You can find these in garden centres, hardware stores and pet shops. The cost is between $30-50.

  • A container at least 5 cm deep and 15 cm across made of ceramic, clay, metal, glass, plastic or wood with a plastic insert. If you decide on a ceramic bowl, be sure it is glazed on the inside. Check it for "weeping" by leaving water in it for a few days on a surface that will not be damaged if it does leak. Place a mat under the ceramic bowl when in use.

  • If selecting a clay bowl, seal carefully with three to four light even coats of waterproof sealant, such as concrete and masonry lacquer, allowing one to three hours to dry between coats. As with the ceramic bowl, check carefully for weeping.
    You may have a suitable bowl at home. Thrift stores, garden and craft stores, flea markets, and pottery stores have a wide selection. 
    The wider the bowl, the more area for accenting (with rocks, plants, minerals, statues, and other objects).

  • Stones to complement your container. Large round cobble stones, slate in many colors, small flat black rocks and others are found in bins at outdoor lawn and garden shops. Hardware stores sell bags of white decorative rock and smooth river rock. Scrub rocks thoroughly to remove grit and dirt.

  • Bottled water. This helps in hard water areas to keep sediment and mineralization to a minimum.
    Of course there are a myriad of commercially made fountains and fountain kits available if you chose not to make your own. Check your local garden centre.

Accessorizing for Different Effects

  • If your container is large enough you can add plants directly to the fountain. Using plants such as spider plants that root directly in water can create a mini-grotto. You may also chose to use small, potted plants placed in and among the rocks. 
    Ensure that the pots are not draining into the fountain water. Use plastic pot holders to avoid the water from the plants contaminating the fountain water.

  • Add some glass crystals of different colours. You can find these, as well as a large assortment of coloured gravel in pet shops.

  • Miniature statues of animals or other figures

  • Add floating candles. The mix of fire and water creates an interesting effect. Make the candles scented ones and add the soothing touch of aromatherapy to the relaxing sounds of water.

Commercial Fountains

If you would rather, you can always buy a fountain or waterfall ready made or in a kit. The varieties are almost limitless ranging from simple Japanese themes with a bamboo spigot to recreations of of famous fountains of the world. The only difference is that these will all fit nicely on an end table or on a wall.
Prices for commercial fountains and kits range from $59 to over $400. The price may vary but the results remain the same...frayed nerves calmed, unwanted noises muffled and the senses relaxed...all from simple running water.

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