Fountain Design Guidelines2022-01-05T18:55:40+00:00

Design Process & Guidelines

There are many steps involved in the fountain design process. Read below for information about the typical requirements and equipment that need to be considered when creating your water feature. Need assistance? Call us at (631) 467-5115 or use our contact page to send us a message. We are Long Island’s fountain design leader and can help you create the perfect fountain for your landscape.

Our fountain design guidelines help create gorgeous & professional displays.

Step 1
Determine the effect desired

  • Consider the size of the effect in relation to the size of the pool, the site and surroundings.
  • Most fountain pools are 18″ deep, so be sure to provide a sufficient volume of water to produce the satisfactory effect.

Step 2
Define size, shape & depth of your pool

  • This planning should involve such factors as the pool configuration most suitable for the site.
  • Pool location and orientation.
  • Materials you wish to use.
  • Available water supply, etc.

Step 3
Choose the proper pump and piping

  • The nature of the effect, elevations, piping distances, fittings and valves will determine the size of the pump required.
  • Large fountains normally use centrifugal turbines or flooded end pumps, while less expensive, easier to install submersible pumps are specified for smaller effects.

Step 4
Choose your filters

  • Water Clarity: Water clarity and condition are important in all fountains, and most foutains use a small recirculating pump and sand filters, with skimmers or floor drains returning with water to the filters. This action can be independent of the water effect.
  • Sand Filter: A high-rate sand filter area for each 1000 cubic feet of pool area, is normally recommended for larger fountains, with the filter supplied by an independent pump. For filters 30″ in diameter or less, this is usually included.
  • Pump Filter Screen: Many smaller fountains rely on the pump filter screen for water clarity, and are simply drained when necessary.
  • Chemical Addition: When chemical addition is desirable, metering pumps with hypochlorite systems may be used. A reliable pool service to monitor and maintain water clarity and chemistry is often the simplest answer to water treatment concerns.
  • Pool or Reservoir: The size of a pool or reservoir and the size of its water effect are interrelated. The pool must contain a sufficient volume of water to meet the requirements of the effect, and be large enough to contain the splash or wave action it produces. This splash pattern will be approximately as wide as its height, so the pool’s minimum diameter should be twice the height of the effect. In addition, jets, fountains and waterfalls require that both flow rates and pressures be adequate to produce the visual effect desired.
  • Waterfalls: Waterfalls have unique flow requirements. A weir depth of 1/4″ requires a flow of 10 GPM per linear foot of weir. A depth of 1/2″ needs 20 GPM; and a depth of 3/4″ needs 30 GPM. The total height of a weir should not exceed the distance from its base to the pool’s edge.

Step 5
Define and locate plumbing for pump and filter systems; locate sensors, lights and junction boxes to be in the pool

  • Pumping systems often need anti-vortex plates for inlet lines, shut-off and flow control valves, and strainers.
  • Filter systems include antivortex plates, inlet fittings, skimmers and vacuum fittings.
  • The electrical systems normally include underwater junction boxes, low water cut-off sensors, water make-up and wind sensors, times and lighting fixtures.

Step 6
Determine your lighting requirements

  • Lighting may provide overall pool lighting, illuminate key elements and create visual contrast between elements.
  • Underwater units should be located about 2″ below the water surface, and may up-light jets, spray rings, cascades, etc.
  • Flood lights accent above-water elements or provide safe area illumination.

Step 7
Define the controls

  • Controls may include such elements as timers for pumping, lighting and filtering operations, as well as motor starters for the pump, water make-up, low water cut-offs and various valves.
  • Weigh the merits of both electro-mechanical and microprocessor controls in this respect.

Step 8
Consolidating & locating the equipment

  • Simple fountains with submersible pumps require a small panel mounted in any suitable location.
  • Larger water effects, pumps, timers, microprocessor controls, electrical panels, fuses, filtration and water conditioning elements and other controls are consolidated and installed in a small building or vault, or on a fenced pad.
  • Local building codes govern location, ventilation, access, etc.

Systems – Once the basic fountain design is settled, systems to produce and maintain the display must be worked out. These systems include:

  • The Pumping Systems: The pumping systems with the jets or water diffusion plates to create the effect; plus the pump water inlet and the required valves and plumbing.
  • The Electrical Systems: The electrical systems with sensors to maintain water levels and shut down electrical equipment when water levels are inadequate. Sensors can also shut down or reduce the size of water effects in high winds. Mechanical or microprocessor controls, timers, motor starters, contactors and underwater lighting units are also included.


Here are some tips for calculating pressure, piping size and more:

Pressure: 2.3 ft of head is equal to one PSI; 1 Meter of head to 1.4 PSI.

Piping Size: If 100′ of pipe is required to reach pool center,

  • 100 GPM requires a 3″ pipe
  • 200 GPM requires a 4″ pipe
  • 300 GPM, a 6″ pipe, (For flow of 5 FPS).
  • A 3″ pipe provides a flow of 5 FPS maximum, 4″ or larger pipe, 10 FPS maximum.