Create a Neoclassical Water Fountain Courtyard

Published: 05th May 2011
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Converting a garden space into an elegant water fountain courtyard takes only a little time and effort, and can add a beautiful, tranquil element to your home landscape. The Neoclassical style adds a sense of timeless luxury to your environment with readily available landscape accents.

Choosing a Water Fountain

The most iconic fountain of the neoclassical style is the pedestal water fountain, where one or more tiers are supported by a Greek-style column, with a central element in an abstract or figural style. The fountain is usually made of marble or plaster, with bronze accents. Some central elements include globes, artichokes, or acorn shapes with water flowing from the top, draped figures pouring water from basins or urns, or the ever-popular spitting fish.

Some pedestal fountains are designed to be set in in-ground pools. The deep pools of your fountain can be used to house fish or grow ornamental water plants if they are large enough, but be sure that the water flow and filtration system are appropriate for this.

Making the Courtyard

Create a roughly circular space around your fountain, floored with soft ground cover, gravel, or mosaic tile, depending on the formality you prefer. You can surround this area with garden columns and arches to create a trellis for climbing greenery, or for a more open effect, place four statues at the corners of a square with your water fountain in the center. Turn the statues facing outward for a welcoming effect, or face them inward for a more intimate feeling.

You can also create a lowered area, reminiscent of a Roman manor house, by digging a space approximately 12 inches deep in your courtyard. Floor the space with stone tiles, and edge it similarly, arranging the tiles to form a bench around the edge of the sunken court. This creates a lovely, quiet space to sit and chat, with a comfortable lowered vantage point that encourages relaxation. Be sure to leave an opening with shallow steps on one site of the court.

When choosing these accenting elements, pick stones that match the color of your fountain, or create a dramatic effect by surrounding a boldly colored fountain with contrasting neutral elements in cream or grey. If you use columns, ensure that their capitals—the decorative section at the top of the column—match the capitals in your fountain.

Polly Godwin has been an expert on water features since 1998 and is the owner of, a company specializing in the highest quality water fountains.

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