Nothing says relaxation quite like a balcony water feature. The sound of trickling water and the decoration a water feature can add make them a great way to take your balcony to the next level.
However, choosing a water fountain for a balcony comes with more considerations than for a normal backyard.
So, if you’re thinking of getting a water fountain for your balcony, here’s everything you need to know, along with the best types to choose from.
Why Get a Water Fountain for Your Balcony?
The main reason you’d want a balcony water feature is that the sound of trickling water can be very relaxing. To a lesser extent, you can use it to mask annoying noise pollution, too. You will need a pretty loud fountain for this, though.
As mentioned, the other important aspect of a water feature is the decorative element. It’s particularly true for something like a Zen garden, where a water feature is one of the most fundamental elements.
What to Consider Before Buying a Balcony Water Feature
Choosing an outdoor water feature doesn’t need to be difficult, but it can be overwhelming once you see all the styles available. Here are some points to consider before you rush out to buy one.
Water features are typically measured by their water capacity in gallons. As you can imagine, a water feature with a larger capacity is going to be bigger and, by extension, heavier.
But you should also consider the material it’s made from. Concrete is a common choice, and large fountains can easily weigh hundreds of pounds. Considering most balconies have a weight limit of 60lbs. per square foot, it might be worth avoiding a massive fountain.
A gallon of water weighs about 8.3lbs. and isn’t included in the fountain’s weight when you buy it. So, take the weight stated on the product listing and add the water weight to it; that’s how much it’ll weigh on your balcony.
The only weather that’s a concern when choosing a water fountain for your balcony is freezing temperatures. If it gets cold enough for water to freeze, you’ll want to take some measures to prevent damage.
Your options are to either completely drain the fountain and then winterize it (take apart or wrap up) or use antifreeze. The former option is obviously better if you have pets or kids.
Access to Water
Luckily, almost all water features are freestanding, meaning they don’t need a permanent connection to mains water. You’ll need to top them up every so often, but this is easy enough with a bucket.
Drainage can be a bit more of a challenge on a balcony. Most fountain pumps will have an outlet nozzle, so you’ll just need to fit a bucket over it and then drain the water into a sink.
Best Types of Water Fountains for a Balcony
The suggestions below are fairly broad categories, most of which are for small balcony water fountains. Hopefully, with a bit of shopping around, you’ll find the perfect style for your balcony décor.
1. Tabletop Water Fountain
A tabletop water fountain is exactly what it sounds like: a small fountain that sits on a table or other surface. They’re typically lightweight, highly decorative, and use very little water.
It’s a good option if you want a small water fountain for your balcony that doesn’t take up much room and that isn’t too invasive. Due to the size, you shouldn’t have any issues with building restrictions around water, too.
The size does lead to some drawbacks. First, you’ll probably have to refill it regularly because the small amount of water means things like evaporation and splashing are more noticeable.
Second, the size means that most have small, fairly cheap pumps, which can be very loud. It’s impossible to find a completely silent pump, but it’s always best for it to be quieter than the water.
- Inexpensive way to add a decorative water feature
- Uses very little water
- Cheap to run
- Needs filling up regularly
- Pumps can be very loud
2. Wall-Mounted Fountain
A wall-mounted water fountain is another self-explanatory option. The main benefit compared to a tabletop fountain is that it won’t take up space, making it ideal for small balconies.
They’re small balcony water fountains that use little water and usually need filling up less than tabletop varieties. The design makes it easier to hide a reservoir, meaning there’s less water wastage.
You’ll need to fit some wall brackets to hang a wall-mounted fountain. While these aren’t the most invasive fittings, they might not be suitable for renters.
- Ideal for small balconies
- Don’t require filling as often as tabletop fountains
- Range of styles available
- Requires wall brackets for mounting
3. LED Water Fountain
LED water fountains are a fairly broad category that’ll cross over with most other types on this list. The benefit of having LEDs fitted is that they can add ambiance to an already relaxing feature.
You’ll find plenty of tabletop and freestanding models that have lights built in, making them flexible balcony water features.
The only major issue is that most LEDs create bright, harsh light, and the colors can feel a bit cheap. To get around this, look for models with warm lighting or spend a bit more for quality LEDs.
- Good way to add extra ambiance
- Flexibility with styles
- Inexpensive LEDs are very harsh
4. Water Fountain Pots
Another broad and flexible category of small balcony water fountains are pots. You can find glazed or terracotta pots to suit all styles. An unglazed pot water fountain would look ideal in something like a Moroccan style balcony.
Most are relatively small, meaning they use very little water. Better still, the reservoir will be hidden inside, which helps reduce water wastage. As such, you won’t need to top them up that often.
Perhaps the only thing we can consider a downside to this style is that they usually won’t make much noise. Rather than cascading water, most water fountain pots will have a small trickling fountain at the top. So, if you want a loud water sound, pick one that cascades.
- Suit a range of décor styles
- Plenty of flexibility in size and design
- Don’t use much water
- Water sound isn’t very loud
5. Zen Water Fountain
If you want a small water fountain for a balcony done in the Zen style, you’ll definitely want something with cascading water. Look for fountains that replicate nature in some way; either rock-style water fountains or ones that sound like rain.
As we discuss in our article on Zen balconies, replicating nature is a key component of the style. Running water is a big thing in Zen gardens, so water features are a must.
You don’t need a big water feature, so a tabletop style might be your best option. However, you’ll then be limited in the ways mentioned above, so perhaps consider a wall-mounted option instead if you can.
- Essential for a Zen garden
- Plenty of natural-looking styles
- Low maintenance
- Same limitations as mentioned above
6. Freestanding Water Fountain
A freestanding water fountain is what many of us think of when asked about fountains. They sit on the floor, meaning they take up more room than the styles mentioned so far.
Freestanding fountains can get pretty heavy, so look out for resin models to cut down on weight. Even a large resin fountain will only weigh around 30-35lbs., excluding water.
Obviously, the main issue is that they take up more room than a small water fountain for a balcony. While this won’t be an issue for everyone, it can feel like a waste of space if you have a small balcony.
- Tend to make more noise than small fountains
- Plenty of styles available
- Resin models help keep weight down
- Need floor space – might not be suitable for small balconies
7. DIY Water Fountain
Making a small balcony water feature is actually much easier than you might think. At the very least, you’ll need a suitable pump, some tubing, and something to use as a reservoir.
The main benefit of a DIY option is that you can tailor it to your balcony size and décor. For example, using a wood tub would suit rustic and boho balconies, whereas a metal pail would look great on a modern-style balcony.
We won’t go over the steps for a DIY water feature here, but you can find plenty of videos online talking you through the steps.
Obviously, the biggest issue is that you’ll need tools and resources. While it can be great to make your own water fountain for a balcony, it can end up being more expensive than just buying one.
- Complete control over style and size
- DIY is (almost) always fun
- Requires tools and materials
- Can get expensive
Final Thoughts on Balcony Fountains
Choosing the best small water fountain for your balcony depends on your style and budget. Tabletop fountains are often the cheapest but are also usually the lowest quality.
Use the list above to narrow down your choices and then search out the perfect balcony water feature for your needs.