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Solar-powered Fountain Adds
'Renewable' Touch to Pond Design

Helena's unique historic homes provide a challenge to using solar power. Since they're usually surrounded by large trees, they're often too shady to take advantage of solar power. One homeowner, Kathleen Ely, has found a unique way to integrate solar power into her landscape design.

Native stone from a quarry near Helena adds a Montana touch to this backyard pool, which is fitted with a solar-powered fountain."Yard ponds are so beautiful calm and soothing. I wanted to have one in my courtyard unique because it has a twelve foot stone wall surrounding two sides.  But I also thought it was pretty decadent to be using electric power to do the job," said Ms. Ely.

The solution was to cut down a box elder tree in the corner to make room for the 12-volt PV panel which powers the Aguasolar garden pump, both of which were purchased from Real Goods. Ms. Ely noted, "We still have plenty of shade in our yard, but now it's much lighter and airier in the southeast corner. Ponds with too much sun have problems with algae anyway." 

The pond was constructed by Tim Pool of Pool's Pools. He and apprentice, Mark Hutchison, spent several days in private quarries near Wolf Creek to get two tons of native stone. They rebuilt the pond several times until it was aesthetically pleasing. "The solar power technology was really easy to set up, though I think we'll need to get a bigger PV panel to really keeps things flowing in the waterfall," he said. 

"Another reason I decided to put a pond in my yard is that I have been working with the principles of feng shui in my house and yard," said Ms. Ely. "Using solar power to do it seemed like a very natural approach to the problem and cost-effective. My house was built in 1887 in Helena's former red light district and I figured it could use some help. The southeast corner, where the pool is located, is supposed to enhance my prosperity. I can only hope...." 

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