Why We Ripped Out Our Fountain.

We need to replace a broken, high-maintenance fountain, but with what? Here we’re sharing the story, plus some of our top fountain replacement ideas!

Remember when we first bought our fixer upper—and found out that the front entry patio boasted this little number?

tiered fountain in basin with no water
Our new courtyard fountain!

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that we’d have a fountain in the front. While it hadn’t been on my list of things to look for in houses, fountains were a feature in many of my childhood “dream floor plans” that I drew up. (As mentioned here.) Usually, they were drawn as fountains in an interior courtyard of the house, which this is not, but still—it was a fountain, people! (Not the reason we bought the house by any means, but it’s sure a fun bonus.)

If you missed it, you can see more photos of our entryway on our exterior tour, as well as our “Round One” courtyard post where I shared my visions for this space.

round tiered fountain in front of house


The problem with the old fountain was threefold:

1. High water waste:

As the prior owner warned us after we bought it, this fountain took up a LOT of water. That basin is huge. And with the California heat and the fact that this gets direct sun most of the day (especially in summer), the evaporation rate was insane! We moved in during a drought year and trust us, we noticed just how much water this fountain sucked up.

2. Improper flow:

The fountain was so old that water didn’t fall properly (i.e. evenly around each tier). Instead, it just kind of trickled out of one spot that had worn down over the years. We looked for ways to fix this but nothing worked.

3. Poor aesthetics:

While it wasn’t our favorite style fountain, we still did try to figure out a way to reuse it. I even tried the best DIY refinishing project I could find out there for fountains, in an attempt to make it look better. No dice.

Sure, we could have chosen to not use it and just left the old, unused fountain there, bone dry and only collecting rainwater like the below picture, but who wants that as a greeting right by their front door? No siree—we wanted a fountain we could USE!

I did briefly toy with the idea of planting an olive tree there, to replace the fountain, but in the end we decided we definitely wanted to keep some sort of water feature there.

tiered fountain in courtyard patio in front of a house
The fountain we chose!


We didn’t just want to replace the existing fountain; we wanted to completely change the way this whole fountain worked.

My #1 issue was with that huge basin below. It required SO much water to keep full and the pump working. If we could only eliminate that large basin… My wheels were turning.

I started envisioning a way in which we could fill up that large basin with dirt and plant something in it, then perch a new fountain in the middle. The new fountain would be a design that wouldn’t need to pour into a larger lower basin like this, and we’d be able to enjoy it without wasting all that water.

And so, the hunt began.


Knowing us, we weren’t just looking for any fountain. There are many lovely options out there, but we weren’t just going for any pretty fountain—we wanted form WITH function!

I created a specific list of things I wanted for the fountain, all centering around my idea of turning the lower basin into a planter. Some of the things I was looking for were:

  • A fountain with small basins for the water.
  • A fountain that I’d love to look at.
  • Preferably something Mediterranean-looking to go with our Mediterranean front yard with the olive trees, as well as the potted citrus around the courtyard.

If you’ve ever wandered around an old village in Italy, for example, you’ve no doubt stumbled across one of those small squares with a central fountain. THAT was the look I was envisioning. I did find gorgeous ones that were imported from Europe (old ones that had to be moved), but they were thousands upon thousands of dollars. Not to mention the shipping.

Sometimes the thing you love exists—but you’re not sure it’s worth the price tag. That’s a judgment we all have to make, and in this case, I wasn’t THAT obsessed with getting a dream fountain. I was convinced (as usual, like with our tile) that I could get the look I wanted for a completely reasonable price. (And free shipping. Who’s not into free shipping?)

We’ll be sharing pics of the fountain we chose next! In the meantime, check out Round One of my vision for this European-style courtyard, or our completed backyard makeover!

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