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Outdoor Fountains Aren't As Frivolous As You Think

by Hugh Snyder

If you've been thinking of getting an outdoor water feature such as a fountain for your yard, but you've avoided it due to drought, you might want to reconsider. With the drought in the western United States reaching epic proportions—so bad that even forecasts of heavy rain for winter note the drought still won't be over—outdoor water sources for birds and other wildlife have dried up. By installing outdoor fountains or other water features in your yard, you can help that wildlife stay alive.

Wildlife Is More Than Bambi

You don't have to be in a deer-filled rural or semi-rural area to help out wildlife. Even in the city, birds, squirrels, and other small animals run or fly  around freely, and they need water. Natural sources have been drying up, and many people have gotten rid of or emptied the water features they had in their yards.

Some Precautions Are Necessary

Of course, that means that if you have a water feature, the wildlife will come to your yard. Be prepared to protect your plants from the wildlife; for example, if you have fruit trees, install barriers on the trunks of the trees to prevent squirrels from climbing up and establishing residence in the tree.

You should also get in the habit of cleaning the water feature on a regular basis. Birds can be messy, and they'll be hanging around the water feature because they will consider it their main source of water. Be careful about what solutions to use to clean out the water feature; whatever you use should be animal- and bird-friendly. Wildlife-safe cleaners are available commercially. 

Water Shouldn't Be Left to Stagnate 

Even if you are cleaning the feature on a regular basis, ensure you keep the water running with a recirculation pump or similar apparatus. Stagnant water provides a home for mosquitoes—and that's one form of wildlife you definitely don't want to harbor. Also, check the water often to ensure there are no pockets that have become isolated from the rest of the water flow. 

If you'd like to know more about installing a water feature that is animal-friendly and that also conserves water by recirculating it, talk to a fountain installer or other water-feature company. Drought-conscious models do exist. Depending on the size of your yard and the features you want, you can get something that provides relaxing sounds for you and nourishment for nature.