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Protecting A Garden Fountain From Inclement Weather

Although a cast stone or concrete garden fountain can resist most outdoor weather conditions, they must be protected from harsh extremes. Fountains for the garden are constructed from materials such as solid concrete, otherwise known as cast stone, and glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). Glass fiber reinforced concrete adds an extra level of protection by incorporating small glass fibers into the concrete mixture. These glass fibers will help the concrete withstand the expansion and contraction that occurs as materials are exposed to heat and cold. This expanding and contracting is what can eventually lead to small fissures that eventually develop into cracks, especially if the temperature extremes are sudden. This sudden change in temperature is most often caused by filling the fountain during the daytime while it is in direct sunlight and the concrete is hot to the touch.

Shielding An Outdoor Fountain From Freezing Weather

Removing The Water

Freezing weather is a temperature extreme that cause your outdoor fountain to crack. When freezing weather approaches your fountain must be drained and all the water removed. Freezing temperatures will solidify the water if it is left within the fountain. This solidified water or ice will exert pressure on the concrete causing it to crack. Some of the larger outdoor fountains will sometimes have a spigot that enables the water to be drained out. If there is not a spigot then a bucket works well to bail out most of the water manually. It is recommended to do this water changing periodically, perhaps every couple months to remove debris and other things that may fall into the fountain such as leaves, dirt and other airborne particles. This water replacing procedure will also prevent sludge from getting stuck in the water pump or restricting water outlet and tubes that circulate water through the fountain.

Covering The Fountain

After the water has been drained and as freezing weather approaches the garden fountain should be completely covered with a heavy duty tarp or burlap sack. There are outdoor fountain covers specifically available for use if you need to purchase one. Covers come in many different sizes and are made to keep water out and warmth in to protect your fountain. Many people find it easier to leave the fountain covered during the winter months since it is difficult to know exactly when the weather may change and repeatedly draining, filling and removing the cover can be a chore.

Disassembling and Relocating

Another option to protect the garden fountain from harsh weather extremes is to disassemble it and relocate it to a protected location. This would be best done in an area where extreme weather follows fairly rigid timelines or is consistent to specific times of the year. Many outdoor fountains are held together by their own weight and do not use mortar or glue during setup. Therefore, they can be relatively easily taken apart and stored in a sheltered location, like in a nearby shed or garage for instance. The weight of concrete fountains does prevent many people from protecting their fountains in this manner. There is always the risk of breakage when moving large pieces of concrete, large sections will require more then one person to move and some pieces are so heavy they will require hoists or even cranes to move them.

Filling Outdoor Garden Fountains

When warmer weather returns the fountain can once again be filled and put into operation. THere are procedures that should be followed when filling or topping off the water level on your garden fountain. Adding water to any outdoor fountain should be done in either the early morning or in the evening. The water feature should never be filled in direct sunlight. The reasons for the times of adding water is because the concrete material that the fountain is constructed from absorbs and retains heat. Most of the heat retained is from exposure to direct sunlight. In fact, concrete can become so warm that it feels hot to the touch. When water is added during the daytime it causes a sudden contraction of the concrete because of the difference in temperature between the cool water and the warm concrete. This situation causes a stress on the material which can lead to fissures that get bigger each time this happens and eventually lead to water leakage or material breakage. If the temperature extremes are significant enough and enough water is added this occurrence can even lead to a sudden cracking of the fountain.

Conclusion

Garden fountains are made for outdoor use and are therefore exposed to harsh weather conditions and inclement weather. These conditions can include sunlight, rain, wind and freezing weather. Although the concrete material used is robust, and even sometimes constructed using glass fiber reinforced materials, care still needs to be taken to protect the fountain from extreme weather conditions. Fountains need to be drained of water when the temperature approaches freezing to protect the water from turning to ice and exerting pressure on the concrete causing it to crack. The fountain can also be covered with a heavy duty tarp or taken apart and stored if feasible.

There are hundreds of fountains available that can fit into any garden theme. Some of the outdoor fountain styles have stood the test of time such as classical tiered multi-level fountains, while others are more modern and contemporary. Even though the shapes are different the fountains can be cared for in a similar manner and will provide many years of enjoyment.

 

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