The outdoor fountains, no matter their style and design, are beautiful decorative additions to any garden, but in order to stay that way, and not ruin the entire image, we need to take care of them and properly maintain them.
Cleaning. The process of cleaning differs depending on the material from which the fountain is made. If it is a copper fountain, every two to three days wipe it with a dry towel, or go over it with some furniture polish to delay formation of patina. Every two to three months use a wax cleaner. Never use bleach, or anything containing bleach for cleaning the steel parts of the fountain. Instead, clean them with a damp sponge or some soft cloth.
For glass or acrylic fountains use glass or plastic polish if you want to remove the dust and the water stains, but remove the water before cleaning, because the solution can damage the pump. To remove scratches use an abrasive-free plastic polish or a restoration kit. The stone, ceramic, and marble fountains should be cleaned once a month with a cleaning solution, milder if the stone is painted or coated, and a soft cloth.
Winterizing. Winter is the biggest enemy of the outdoor fountains. Freezing temperatures can cause the fountain to crack and get damaged. The best solution would be to keep it inside during this period, but that’s not always possible. If such case, drain all the water from the fountain bowls, fill the insides with something absorbent (sponge, newspaper or carpet cover), and protect it with a fountain cover.
Pump Maintenance. Regular pump maintenance is crucial for long lasting functioning of the fountain. When cleaning it, you should first take it apart, but following the producer’s instructions. Then, take all the parts and soak them in a soft vinegar solution once a month or in a harder one twice a month. And remember; never let your fountain run dry, because this will permanently damage the pump. A well maintained pump usually lasts up to three years, before it needs to be replaced.
Water Circulation and Algae Control. For a healthy environment you need to keep the water in the fountain clean and circulating. This will release oxygen and inhibit bacteria growth, unlike the stagnant water, which breeds harmful bacteria and spreads diseases. If you need to turn off the pump for a longer period, drain all the water from the fountain.
The best position for an outdoor water feature is some shady area in your garden, because algae thrive under bright light. If shade is not an option, then you should more often change the water in the fountain, about once a month, and clean it with some commercial algaecide, mouthwash, or lemon juice to prevent recurrences.
Keep in mind that even the most expensive fountains won’t last long if you don’t regularly maintain them, as they certainly deserve.