How to Encourage Wildlife With a Fun Solar Fountain

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Solar fountain water feature in a garden bed

I am fortunate indeed to live in a beautiful place surrounded by trees and forest, my garden a sunny oasis of flowers, vegetables and fruits. But there was long something missing, and it was water. I longed for water’s sparkle and sound, yearned for its flow (in Japanese), or perhaps I was pulled by water’s yin (in Chinese).

But not so much that I wanted to take on the expense or upkeep of a pond or plug-in fountain.

How times change. Our favorite new garden thing last year was not a plant, but a solar water fountain that mimicked a mountain spring, installed in a sloping perennial bed. For less than $40, the sound of trickling water became part of our backyard symphony, compliments of the sun. We and our pets enjoyed the little micro-stream every day, as did countless birds and woodland animals. I can’t wait to launch Version 2 in the spring.

“Floating
An inexpensive floating solar fountain provides sparkle and soothing sounds on sunny days

Floating Solar Water Fountains

Before creating last summer’s water feature, I became charmed by a round floating solar fountain like those sold for bird baths. Every fall I clean and store it indoors though winter, and it’s now in its fifth year of service.

Within a few days of taking the floating solar water fountain out of the package, I learned some of its limitations. Using any of the spray nozzles that came with the kit caused the water to shoot so high that it quickly blew away. This would have been a disaster in a shallow birdbath, because a water pump will burn up if allowed to run dry under full power. Removing the nozzles so the fountain bubbles rather than sprays, and switching to a larger container, solved the water loss problem. I keep the floating solar water fountain in the middle of my vegetable garden where I can hear it gurgling away on sunny days. As garden features go, it’s become a welcome friend.

The intake on a floating solar water fountain is slow to clog due to its location under the PV disc, but grass clippings can cause a persistent mess. Also consider that mosquito life cycles run about 10 days, or less in warm climates. It’s best to empty and clean the tub once a week, as well as after mowing sessions.

“Solar
Installed in a sloping perennial bed, Barbara’s solar water feature uses a submerged pump to push water up the hill. As the plants fill in, the charger becomes hidden from view.

Submerged Solar Water Pumps

Creating a bigger and better solar water feature took some planning, because I had a vision of water gently trickling over rocks. This would require a submerged solar water pump, nestled in a reservoir, to which I would attach tubing so the water would be pushed up a slight hill rather than spewing into the air. From there it would spill down over stones.

I bought a submerged solar water pump/fountain with a 10-foot power cord online, and used plastic tubing from the hardware store to carry water from the pump’s outlet (submerged in a plugged flowerpot reservoir), with its other end hidden among rocks and a hollow log. I covered the water line and the power cord to the charger with mulch, stone and logs, as shown in the photo {{above}}. It worked!

Within a week, there was no doubt that non-human animals thought my imitation mountain spring was real. Some nights deer or perhaps raccoons drank half of the water. Not all animal visits ended well. Two mice drowned, and I saved a waterlogged toad, so next year I plan to use a shallower reservoir with ‘steps’ inside made from small rocks or bricks to make it easier for critters to escape. It also needs to be easier to clean. With so many different species drinking from a shared water source, I got paranoid about avian flu, which is not a crazy idea.

“Solar
The sight and sound of running water captures the interest of animals, wild and domestic

Solar Fountain Battery Backup Pros and Cons

When shopping for solar fountains, you will need to decide whether or not you want battery storage that will keep the fountain running after dark. If you live in a noisy place where you want to listen to water rather than traffic in the evenings, by all means choose a unit with a built-in battery. On the negative side, the sound of running water attracts other animals the same way it attracts humans. If your neighborhood is plagued by truly terrible nocturnal animal pests, a fountain that runs at night may attract unwanted attention.

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Comments

 
"Awesome. Could you share the model of solar pumping gadgets you deployed. cheers"
Mofaht on Monday 18 December 2023

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