How to Keep Algae Out of Your Garden Fountain


Water features like garden fountains are beautiful additions to any outdoor space. The sound of flowing water creates a soothing, calming ambiance, while the water itself can help attract wildlife like birds and butterflies that further add to the overall charm of your garden.

However, your lovely outdoor water fountain can quickly become infested by smelly, slimy algae if you don’t take care of it properly. Algae can prevent you from appreciating the beauty of your garden. It can also attract harmful insects, not to mention clog the filtration system of the fountain and cause it to break.


To keep algae from making a home out of your outdoor fountain and causing you undue stress and extra maintenance costs, here are some simple tips.

Give It Some Shade
If your fountain is exposed to direct sunlight for hours, then you can expect that algae will form much faster. This situation can become infinitely worse during the summer, when the days are longer and hotter. To help slow down algae growth, give your fountain some shade.

For fountains that are permanently affixed to the ground or wall, you can provide shade by putting tall, leafy plants near the fountain or creating a seating area with an umbrella or canopy. If your garden fountain is not fixed, it may be better to move it somewhere cooler.

Add Preventive Treatments to the Water
Depending on the size of your fountain, you can add a few drops of bleach to keep the water free from algae for longer. However, this is only ideal if you don’t keep fish in the basin of the fountain. Many bleaches also contain chemicals that are harmful to plants, birds, and other wildlife, so it’s best to check the product labels thoroughly before adding them to the water in your fountain.

For all natural solutions, some people swear by the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in place of bleach. Barley extract is also a popular anti-algae solution.

Use an Algaecide
Unlike water treatments that prevent or slow down the growth of algae, algaecide is used to get rid of algae that’s already present. As mentioned earlier, check the product labels to make sure that it is safe for plants and animals. You might also prefer a non-metallic algaecide, especially if your water fountain is made out of light materials like white marble or porcelain, since this product is less likely to stain.

Replace the Water Often
Old water has more debris and other impurities in it that help algae thrive, so the cleaner the water, the less likely it is to harbor algae. Clean water also helps prevent buildup in the pump and filter system, helping it do a better job of cycling the water.

It’s best to clean your fountain first with the appropriate materials and methods, and then allowing it to air dry before refilling it with clean water. If you have a smaller fountain, you can also choose to fill it with distilled water instead of tap water to further slow down algae build up. Distilled water does not contain impurities like metals, chemicals, and bacteria, which all contribute to the growth of algae.

Clean the Pump (or Replace It)
Keeping your fountain clean is one of the best ways to prevent the growth of algae. However, in our focus to keep the fountain itself clean, we sometimes forget that the pump needs some attention too. A dirty pump may render all that cleaning useless, since the water passing through it will be contaminated soon enough. The water will also move slowly if your pump is not as clean, making it more conducive for algae to grow.

There’s no need to use soap to clean your fountain’s water pump. Some distilled water and a brush or sponge are enough -- just make sure to scrub and rinse thoroughly, and follow manufacturer instructions if you have to open the pump to clean the interior.  If algae continues to grow, you might want to change the pump you have now to get better water circulation.

Your garden should be a source of comfort, not of annoyance. With these simple care tips, you can keep your outdoor fountain clean and algae-free so you can enjoy and relax in your very own slice of paradise.

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