As you watch the sunlight nourish and grow your garden plants, why not watch it power a fountain or lights as well? Many gardens are in sunny locations or at least have a sunny spot, and you can add some lovely water features to your garden by harnessing this bright source of power. Here are some ideas for specific water features for your garden, and tips on installing them.
Keep It Going
The first thing to keep in mind when installing any solar feature in your garden is the issue of when and how often you want it to run. If running only on sunny days is fine with you, then you needn’t look for a battery pack attachment.
If you want your water feature to run in the evenings and on cloudy days, you will need to install a battery pack in which to store the power generated on sunny days. Not all features include a battery, so either choose a kit that does include it or, if you’re handy, buy one separately and install it.
If you go out of town or otherwise can’t get to your water feature for a number of days, there is the risk that it will run dry due to evaporation. Water pumps must stay submerged or they will overheat and break. To keep the feature from running dry, look for a kit with an automatic shut-off feature that will turn off the pump when the water level gets too low.
Of course, you’ll need sun for at least a few hours a day. If the feature itself is not in direct sunlight, you can attach the solar panel to a fence top or other place where there is sun, and attach it to the water feature via wires.
Most water features come in a variety of materials, such as ceramic, copper, resin, stone, slate, and terra cotta. Choose a material that fits your climate. For example, stone or ceramic may crack in cold weather, but resin and metal stand up to cold well. You may not want a metal birdbath in a hot climate due to the way metal absorbs so much heat.
If you live in an area with cold winters, trying to provide water for the birds can be difficult. And when the summer gets hot, the water in the birdbath sits stagnant, encouraging the growth of algae, bacteria, and mosquitoes. Installing a solar-powered, heated birdbath with a circulating water feature is a beautiful way to provide for the local wildlife.
There are usually no wires involved with birdbaths; the pump is in the supporting column and the solar panel is in the bowl. This means you can change its location if you need to, and you needn’t worry about running into wires with lawn equipment.
These lovely features usually involve more landscaping than birdbaths. You can add a waterfall to an existing pond, or put out a self-contained waterfall. Waterfalls can have rocks, stones, colored glass, and other lovely features in their bowls. If you add a waterfall to a pond, you will need a more powerful pump and thus more solar power.
Like the self-contained waterfalls, fountains come in a variety of designs and materials. With both self-contained waterfalls and fountains, you may need to store them in a storage shed or garage during the winter. If this is the case for you, make sure the fountain is easy to lift and carry.