A Touch of Life: Moses Lake Gardener Learns to Maintain and Operate Fountains



For most gardeners, their garden and landscape is constantly growing as they add new plants, flowers, and accessories to the mix to find that perfect aesthetic composition.

Bobbie Bodenman of Moses Lake moved into his new home with his family in April and inherited a new garden and a few items to go with it, including three water fountains. As someone who has never had water facilities in her garden or yard before, she discussed some of the lessons she learned about the maintenance and operation of her new garden fountains.

“One is a bit small, one with angels, the other a three-tiered fountain and the other is more gorgeous in the front,” Bodenman said. “It’s bigger and more chic, it features two small children who catch their mother with a pitcher of water.”

The largest fountain in its front yard is a concrete fountain that originated in Italy. She said the house’s previous owners were from Italy and the fountain was too heavy to move.

She said she didn’t know what material the other two fountains are made of, but it’s kind of a lighter faux stone. The three-tier fountain was full of dirt and broken when Bodenman arrived and she wasn’t sure it could be fixed.

But, she said, she and her husband, Joel Bodenman, managed to mend some of the broken joints between the separate levels, replace the fountain’s pumps and get it operational.

“We had to buy tubes, you have to figure out the right size tube to connect the pump to the fountain devices,” Bodenman said. “My husband was more of a fountain repairer, but I kind of understand how they work. It really is quite simple.

Bodenman said she took to the Garden Answer YouTube channel for plenty of advice on some of the finer details about fountains. Installing pumps can be tricky in the tight fountain space, which is why professional advice made this process easier.

One of the biggest concerns she has faced is the buildup of algae in the fountain.

At first, she said the couple tried using bleach in the fountain. She said it worked to remove algae, but was detrimental to some of her flowers and plants surrounding the fountain. Bodenman said she had just purchased algaecide to prevent algae build-up from a distance.

The algicide is safe for living plants, but can be dangerous for pets, so it’s a good idea to keep dogs or cats as far away as possible from the fountain. Bodenman said she has a birdbath at the side of her house next to the fountains.

In addition to the buildup of algae on the outside of the fountain, it can also clog the pump hole.

She said the couple used some of the stainless steel wool dishwashers to act as a filter for the pump hole where there is no pump door that closes. Bodenman said the pump will slow down as gunk builds up inside. She said cleaning the exterior with a toothbrush seems to work well if the algae or grime is encrusted with the heat, but adding water to the hose will usually remove most of it.

One interesting idea she mentioned was adding blue food coloring to the water to make the fountain look more “tropical”.

“If you have an upcoming event, you want to clean the fountain and then put the food coloring in it to make it look gorgeous for the day,” Bodenman said.

Refilling fountains is a daily routine, especially with the recent high temperatures, she said. She said she often unplug them during hot periods due to how quickly the water evaporates.

Bodenman said it’s hard to say how much water it takes to fill the fountains, but her husband initially used a five-gallon bucket, so it’s at least that much. She said she would usually fill them with the hose while she made her rounds in the garden beds.

After only a few months of maintaining and configuring his new water features, Bodenman said it was exciting and enjoyable to have them. She said she plans to potentially add another tri-level fountain and ‘waterfall’ type feature now that she and her husband have gone through some of the learning curves. Even her new next door neighbor, her mother-in-law, recently bought a new fountain with LED lights.

Overall, she said the benefits outweigh the problems and having the fountains is definitely worth it.

“It’s just kind of a centerpiece for your eyes and when we have people it feels like a vacation spot,” Bodenman said. “It was just fun to find them out because some of them were pretty bad. Repairing them was a treat.

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