True to its name, a disappearing fountain bubbles up from a form, does its dance within the landscape, then quietly disappears back into an underground world of mystery. These special custom fountains are highly individuated forms whose designs are always very unique and positioned in secluded parts of the yard that represent retreat and quite repose. The uniqueness of this particular type of landscaping element makes it a favorite centerpiece of any morning garden, reading area, or meditation space built just for the homeowners themselves.
The key point of differentiation that makes a disappearing fountain unique in comparison to other fountain designs is the absence of a basin. Instead, the water falls into a below grade pit. The elevation of this pit is determined by carefully measuring the slope of the surrounding landscape. We may have to dig out a lower level plain in order to create the necessary height needed for optimal water flow.
As the water pours out of the spout of the disappearing fountain, it cascades down the sides into this catch pit and filters through the cracks between special natural or ornamental elements that we use to line the pit. If we want to create something of a European tone, we will spread gravel here, as we did in our morning garden project described in our case study section. If we are looking for more of a wilderness feel, stones will be used instead. If we really want to do something innovative, like build the fountain in a courtyard or as part of a tropical garden design, we can even break up small slabs of limestone and place them side by side by hand.
Sometimes even we can integrate this form into more intentional and linear landscaping elements, such as Italian garden design, or even highly abstract modern landscape design. In these cases, bricks or pavers will be used to line the catch pit, or even slabs of limestone
In such instances, one thing is common regardless of the materials ultimately chosen. The water disappears. It is that simple, and in that simplicity lies the true beauty of this fountain. Watching the water simply flow between stones or bricks or even slabs of hardscape seems to produce almost a hypnotic effect on the mind.
But what happens to the water then?
It runs through hidden slots into an underground chamber that is controlled by a remote or silent pump. Sometimes we build these pumps underground, but that is not always wise in gumbo Houston soil. It may also be impractical if the disappearing fountain happens to be located right beside a wall or on the very edge of the homeowner’s property line. In these cases it is more practical to hide the pump in another location and operate the water circulation through a remote, automated control system.
As the pump circulates the water through the system, it eventually pushes it back to the fountain head itself, where it returns to the surface world to continue the visible portion of its cycle. The fountain head can be anything from a traditional, geometric structure, a mythological being or deity, or something rudimentary like a piece of pottery or special urn that has been drilled out to accommodate the flow of water.
What the disappearing fountain actually looking like, so to speak, will ultimately be based on intent to add a complimentary element to a garden design, a highlight to the backdrop of the home edifice, a special ornamental break in a hardscape, or a geometric juxtaposition reflected off the rising surface of an architectural wall.