Don’t go chasing waterfalls

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Three experts whom we interviewed believe that a downsizing might be underway in the marketplace for water features for the home. That’s good news, because the installation and maintenance of ponds and waterfalls often costs more than what most homeowners might be able to afford. A wider selection of outdoor urns (pictured), fountains and so-called bubbling boulders means that homeowners can satisfy their desire to have a water feature at a relatively minimal initial investment and almost no upkeep costs.

Apart from the cost to install a pond, the expense to maintain one—regardless of whether it contains plants or fish—can be at least $100 per month. This could include checking pH levels, cleaning the filter system and checking for leaks. Typically, such maintenance doesn’t apply to an urn, fountain or bubbling boulder.

According to Paul Fraynd of Sun Valley Landscaping, the price to install an urn or a fountain now starts at as little as $1,000, and the price to put in bubbling boulders starts at $2,500. Jason Bowen of Kane Brothers Water Features estimates that the cost to install a fountain or urn begins at about $2,500.

Installing an urn, fountain or bubbling boulder might mean that you’d have to get a building permit if an electrical supply is added or relocated. Although you likely also would have to get a similar permit to install a pond or waterfall, the installation of an urn, fountain or bubbling boulder wouldn’t bring with it the expense for digging.

Bowen points out that, although some landscaping companies that install urns, fountains and bubbling boulders can bring their own electrician to the project, a homeowner shouldn’t hesitate to use an electrician with whom he/she is familiar.

—C. Maynard