What Is The Difference Between Waterfall And Fountain?

Most people say that fountains and waterfalls are the same things. If it was a few weeks ago, I would agree with them. But I decided to do some research and I found out that there are some differences. So, what is the difference between waterfall and fountain?

The most significant difference between fountains and waterfalls is that a fountain is a source of water, and more like a spring. On the other hand, a waterfall is the flow of water. Just as you see waterfalls falling off the edge of the cliffs, artificial waterfalls are made to fall off rocks and flow through them.

My today’s article comes with a little bonus to help you build and install waterfalls and fountains in the outdoor area of your home. So, let’s move on.

What Is The Difference Between Waterfall And Fountain?

As I said a moment ago, the difference between a waterfall and a fountain is hardly noticeable. Some people would get themselves a waterfall and call it a fountain, and vice versa.

The water of a waterfall does not come out like a spray or spring. Rather, it runs down the edge of the rocks and then flows like a stream. The water will not splash or create any heavy sound.

On the other hand, a fountain has a head and nozzles. The water is pumped up through a motor to the head and then released through the nozzles. Fountain water sprays make a splashing noise.

Both the waterfall and fountain need a source of water to run. Fountain usually comes in parts for you to put together and install. And if you are installing the fountain in a pond, the pond water becomes its natural water source.

On the other hand, waterfall needs to be built. And even if you are building on a pond as its source of water, it will still need a separate pump and hoses to be attached and placed in to make the water streams.

How To Build A Waterfall?

The beauty of a waterfall in your backyard is unexplainable. Other than having an aesthetic look, it brings a calming and relaxing sound.

Building a waterfall requires a few steps. And here is how you can do it.

Step 1: Planning For The Waterfall

Planning the waterfall means choosing a location for it. You can either build it on a natural slope or dig a slope yourself.

You also need to think about the power source. Having a power source far from the waterfall will require an unnecessary length of power cords. So make sure the power source is close enough.

Then you need to plan the size of the waterfall. If you know the estimated amount of water that will pass through the stream, measuring the upper pool and lower basin will become easy. Later, you can choose the boulders, rocks, and gravels you will need.

Step 2: Set It Up

Use spray paint to outline the stream. It will help you know exactly how you need to dig. But you must consult your utility authority, in case there are any water or gas lines underneath. Then you can start doing your work.

You can start with underlayment. Then stretch the waterfall distance, and move to the lower basin. To hold the membrane plastic in place, you can place some rocks on it. Then place the sump basin in the excavated hold and connect the waterline with it.

Step 3: Craft The Waterfall

Start placing the larger boulders at the bottom and work your way up. Smaller stones or pebbles usually get swept away with the stream.

That’s why it is better to use large stones near each waterfall. Then carefully place the spillway rocks.

Step 4: Put Everything Together

To put large stones together, you can use mortar. You can place the smaller stones underneath the sides to bring a natural look.  You can also use expanding foam to seal any visible cracks.

Using a hose, fill the bottom basin, and then turn on the pump’s power system. Then check if the water is flowing correctly.

You can add a finishing touch by adding some plants and keeping fish in your waterfall’s pond. Furthermore, you can bring a more mesmerizing look by adding some lights.

Let’s watch a video

How To Install A Pond Fountain?

Installing a fountain in your pond is an easier option. Since these fountains come in parts, all you have to do is put them together as instructed.

Remember, the installation process varies from fountain to fountain. But this is one of the most common ways to do it.

  • Pond fountains are usually float-mounted. It means they will float on the pond. So the package comes with a float, a motor, power cord with disconnect, control panel with a timer, spray pattern heads etc.
  • Make sure to have a power source near the pond area. If you don’t have one, you can get one installed by an electrician.
  • Then mount the control panel close to the electric power source.
  • Select a spray pattern nozzle and put it on the fountainhead.
  • Place the fountain float on the ground and place the motor into the center.
  • Some fountain floats come with screw or bolt systems. Others simply need to be turned around the motor head and click into place.
  • Now connect the power cord to the pump cord disconnect.
  • Attach the power cord string to the float.
  • You need to attach two mooring lines to either side of the float as well.
  • If you are adding lights to the fountain, attach them around the float.
  • Now place the fountain on the pond and secure the mooring lines on either side on the ground using a metal stake.
  • Then you need to plug the control panel into the power outlet. And then you can plug the fountain’s power cord into the control panel. Now your fountain is ready to run.

Let’s watch a video


Why You Shouldn’t Turn Off Your Pond Or Garden Fountain Or Waterfall?

One of the many benefits of having an outdoor fountain or waterfall, especially in your pond, has various benefits. So, if you keep it turned off for a long time, several things can happen.

Algae Growth Rises

When you turn off the waterfall or the fountain, the water will go still. And still, water allows the weeds and algae to grow without any obstacle. Moreover, the water will no longer carry away the dirt.

If water algae and debris keep going, you will have to clean them. Otherwise, they will jam the motors. Besides, the cost of cleaning can end up giving you nightmares.

Beneficial Bacteria Stops Growing

As the motor pumps the water, it works like a filtration system. This system helps beneficial bacteria to grow and keep the water fresh and healthy.

So, if you turn off the fountain or the waterfall, the water flow will stop. Thus, beneficial bacteria will stop growing without proper water circulation.

Harmful For Fish Health

You know what happens if there is no circulation in water. The water’s oxygenation system starts going down. And if you have fish in the fountain or at the bottom of your waterfall, keeping the motor off can cause serious damage.

Without necessary movement and oxygenation in water, the fish’s health will start to decline. And keeping the pump off for a long time can even cause death.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why Does My Water Fountain Splash Outside Its Edges?

Fountains do not splash unless you do not adjust the parts in the right way or install it in the wrong way. This issue can also happen if the water level is lower or higher than what it should have been. So make sure it stays balanced.

If you are using a floating pond fountain, make sure the fountain’s spray level stays within the pond. The fountain should be installed keeping a specific distance.

Another reason why it can happen is if the water flow is too high. You can always adjust it with the controller. To make sure it doesn’t splash, follow the instructions correctly.

Q. Do I Need To Turn Off My Indoor Waterfall Or Fountain At Night Or When I’m Away?

Waterfalls or fountains are meant to run all the time. Their motors are designed that way. So, you do not need to turn it off unless it requires cleaning or any maintenance.

Besides, turning it on and off frequently can damage the pump. That’s why it is advisable to not turn off the fountain or waterfall without any reason.


For those who love gardening or decorating the outdoor space of your home, adding a fountain or a waterfall can make the space look more aesthetic. But most people either can’t decide which one to install or which one will be more fitted. Most importantly, they need to know the differences to get the correct answer to their questions.

So when someone asks, “What is the difference between waterfall and fountain?”, you know what to say. Just remember, the difference lies in their design, way of work and water flow system. If you can tell these apart, spotting a waterfall and a fountain will be a piece of cake for you.