Spitters and fountains are ancient ways of artistic expression using water. The Romans are very famous for the use of fountains and spitters in their water works. The “Brussels Boy ‘spitter'” of a young boy urinating is a cultural icon, now found gracing ponds around the world. Today spitters are still a great way to add personality and put that personal touch to your pond. Spitters can be whimsical or sophisticated, but whatever the type you choose there are some considerations that should be looked at when using spitters around your pond.
• Size – the size of your spitter should not overwhelm the scene, but it should not be so small as to be difficult to see either. Look for some type of “pond to spitter” size balance when buying a spitter for your pond.
• Placement – spitters should be placed in areas that otherwise may not offer visual or decorative appeal. Spitters should be oriented in a way that compliments the pond design itself, making sure not to obstruct views or create an obstacle when placed on the ponds perimeter. Larger and taller spitters should be placed on the far side of the pond facing towards the viewer, slightly angled from a “head on” view. Pay attention to how the water is hitting back into the pond, make sure that excessive splash will not create water loss. The output of water from the spitter should not overly disturb visibility into the pond because of excessive surface agitation. When directing the output from the spitter consider what is the primary viewing area of the pond and try not to have the output directly crossing the field of view, angling the output of water will look and feel nicer.
• Pump size and placement –What type of display you have will determine how powerful of a pump you should install. A spitter type of fountain can have a very strong water flow that may give off a deep sound, or perhaps in a smaller pond you may desire just a simple flow of water that does not make much sound or detract attention from the pond itself. Think about how far you want or need the water to project into the pond; a large pond may require water to be discharged at some distance; where a smaller pond would not need too powerful of a pump. If your spitter, for example, is a small frog statue spouting water into the pond from its mouth you certainly would not need as much water flow as a trio of 5 foot tall bronze dolphins that are spouting water into the pond. Pump placement is crucial too, DO NOT PLACE YOUR SPITTER’S PUMP INTAKE IN DEEP WATER. The best options for pump placement would be in a skimmer box, just below water surface, or an external pump. It is a hard lesson learned when your spitter drains your pond to the bottom because the flow of water was accidentally directed out of your pond, and if you place your pump in deep water your pond will drain to the point that the pump is located. I have seen some very unfortunate and costly situations with misplaced pumps. If you are leaving town or cannot check on your pond, you may want to unplug the spitter pump and only run when you are there to enjoy it.
• Style – whimsical vs. sophisticated. Spitters can be anything from a frog in a hammock to large brass sculpture costing thousands of dollars. Try to make sure the spitter style suits the atmosphere of the pond; for example if your pond has a tropical feel maybe a dragonfly style spitter would make more sense than a Greek Goddess spitter. A Goddess style spitter may be better suited for a formal pond.
• Material – the type of material that the spitter is made of will affect pricing. Resins are widely available, come in numerous designs, and are pretty affordable. Resins are also lightweight and easy to move around your pond to find just the right spot. Concrete fountains and spitters are plentiful and come in many designs too. Concrete is heavy, and may need to be winterized in colder climates so they do not crack. Brass and bronze are also popular materials and can be very elegant in appearance. These metals over a period of time will develop color changes from when originally created and installed because of moisture and oxidation. Brass and bronze spitters are usually the most expensive choice of materials and their cost is based upon not just the material, but the craftsmanship it takes to create a beautiful piece. Copper is available too for fountains but is not the best choice for ponds that contain livestock.
• Stand alone spitters – Consider the option of “stand alone” spitter fountains as well. Some spitters are truly works of art that can hold their own and do not need to be just a part of a whole scene, they can BE the scene! Installation is easy, they are very low maintenance, they are economical, and can put an accent into the landscape design that could very well be the main focal point.
• Winterizing – for some climates a spitter should be winterized and protected from freezing conditions. Winterizing your spitter can be as simple as covering with a tarp, or you may want to store your spitter in an area safe from the elements. If winterizing, be sure that the water lines have drained so they do not freeze and crack during cold spells.
Pond spitters are fun and can add a great expression to your pond area. Spitters can be found on numerous pond related websites and purchased online, many pond magazines will have advertisements, or visit your local pond and fountain retailer and see the selection in person to get the best idea of what is available, and how they look in person.
All copyrights to this material belong to Mike Gannon.