Does freeway din spoil the quiet ambiance of your outdoor living areas? Is there a schoolyard or public basketball court nearby that fills the evening with shouts and bounces? Maybe it’s just the neighbor’s blaring TV that drives you back indoors. Fear not, for there is indeed a way to solve these seemingly insurmountable problems – so you can return your backyard sanctuary to a more peaceful place to rest and renew.

Tier fountain

Because gravity plays a big role in how tier fountains function, precise leveling at installation is essential.

Photo Credit: Maureen Gilmer

triple tier fountain

The narrow diameter of this fountain is compensated by its three tiers, which maximize visibility and sound.

Photo Credit: Maureen Gilmer

Side yard retreat

Position your fountain so it’s most effective – with its soothing sound filling your outdoor space and its beauty enjoyed from inside your home.

Photo Credit: Maureen Gilmer

Rustic tier fountain

Select a fountain design as you would a work of art, noting the attractive finish details and overall look.

Photo Credit: Maureen Gilmer

The solution is water, and it’s easier than ever before to use its refreshing sound to mask the world outside. What’s more, it’s a great way to add a fabulous focal point to patio or landscape.

Affordable package fountains are sold at home improvement stores. They can be installed as a simple do-it-yourself project, or you can pay extra for someone to set it up for you. (Because cast concrete is so heavy and precise leveling is vital to proper function, using experts is well-worth the cost.) Then all you need is an outdoor GFI plug to get it going and a garden hose to fill it up. The rest takes care of itself.

When you need big water sound, only the right water feature will fit your need – and that calls for a bit of hydrology. The sound of water is governed by two things: the amount of water flowing and the distance it falls. This means that you’ll need more than just a trickle to get the job done. That factor alone eliminates all but the Spanish-style fountains first invented by the ancient Romans to solve the very same drown-out-noise problem in their urban homes.

To get the most out of this type of water feature, two-, three- and four-tier fountains offer multiple falls. The larger the diameter of each bowl, the greater the volume of water flowing from that tier. To ensure your fountain remains in scale with your garden, you need to balance this height and diameter with the size of the space you have available. Strive for the largest size you can without compromising surrounding living areas. Even if functional space remains around the fountain, beware of a visual feel of crowding.

Before you buy any fountain, insist on seeing (and hearing) it work at peak capacity. This way you’ll know exactly how much sound it makes. Even with a large fountain, if the manufacturer undersized the pump, you won’t get the volume and sound you’re after. If you can select the pump separately, be sure it’s as large as possible, because pump output directly influences the amount of sound a fountain can make.

You’ll also want a fountain that lets you easily adjust the amount of water flowing through, which is done by turning a knob on the pump. This way, should there be a quiet time when you don’t need to maximize the sound, you can turn down the flow and change the audio ambiance of your space.

Finally, the location of your fountain should be as close to your outdoor living areas as possible. This makes the water more audible and better able to cloak background noise. Since a fountain is a valuable amenity, it’ll also be the visual focus of your space. So find a position that makes it the most visible – that means from inside the house, too. Viewing your fountain through often-used windows allows you to enjoy your feature year-round – even when it’s not running.