16.7.16

How to Make a Backyard Bubble Fountain (in an afternoon & on a budget!)

By Ed



We've been looking to add a water feature to our yard for well over a year now. We've kicked a few ideas around in that time. I liked ponds, for example. Robin pointed out that we have a dog who would spend all his time in said pond and we would never have a dry pet again. I felt this was a good point.


We settled on a standalone fountain type water feature. We decided to build it ourselves because:

a) we like building things ourselves and

b) most store-bought water features look exactly like store-bought water features and cost a lot more than the individual parts that go into them.  It's a poorly kept secret that we're a bit frugal.


We started planning.



Concept 1 - A Water Wall.

Sounds amazing right?  It was going to be made with some glass shower doors we found at a Re-Store.  That plan was rejected after basically a year of thinking on it because I still couldn't come up with a practical way to support the glass and have water run down it and have it not look hideous.



Concept 2 is what this post is about: A Simple Fountain Made with Pots. 

There was a spot in near our deck silently begging for a water feature.  It would be much more doable.








Materials:

  • 2 pots (one large, one smaller) - any material, but strong enough to hold water and rocks.  Ours is glazed terra-cotta.  More expensive than plastic, but still cheaper than a ready made fountain.

  • 1 fountain pump (this one would work well).  It should have enough vertical lift to pump water taller than your stacked pots (you can find this information in the specs of most fountain/pond pump kits)

  • 1 plastic pail (I used an old wine kit bucket, but anything you don't mind drilling holes in will do)

  • Automotive fibreglass material ("Bondo")

  • Rocks (Some decorative, some large ones that take up a lot space and are cheap/free)

  • 1 piece of hose that fits the outlet on your fountain pump (most have adapters and can use garden hose, plumbing 'PEX' pipe or anything in between that you might already have)



Assemble as below. 

I have added some notes and thoughts in the images as appropriate.

I'm clearly a fine, fine artist. 
My favourite parts are the swiss cheese pail and the potato rocks...




Step 1 - Seal the Pump into the Bottom Pot



I started by opening one of the drain holes enough for the plug to pass through and feeding most of the cord through. I kept enough on the pump side so we could position it as needed.



Next, using some heavy duty tape, I created some temporary patches over all the drain holes. These don't have to hold water - just support the Bondo (automotive fibreglass repair material) in place till it sets. 


Finally, I mixed the Bondo and troweled it into all the holes and around the pump wire. I let it cure and then painted the whole bottom of the pot to seal everything up.   




 Step 2 - Prep the bucket to cover the pump



Next, I cut down a pail that will serve to cover and protect the fountain pump from the heavy rocks and top pot and allow water to circulate. 


It needs to be shorter than the depth of the large pot, but not much, otherwise the top pot will sit too low. We held the small pot in place and tried a few different heights till we found one that worked.


Cut the pail down and drill a hole in the top for the pump hose to pass through and a few holes in the side so water can get back to the pump after it flows down.


Step 3 - Assemble in layers and try some test runs.



After the Bondo has cured and paint dried in the bottom pot, test fit the base pot and plastic pail together with the fountain and hose. Fill with some water and run the fountain to see if you'll need to adjust the stream volume. It is easier to do now than later when you have the whole thing stacked with heavy rocks.







Now position the smaller pot on top of the pail and feed the hose through the drain hole. 


If you want a 'waterfall' effect (like we did), be sure and seal the hole at the bottom. It doesn't need to be a perfect fit, you just need to have the water flow out through the drain slower than it flows in through the fountain pump, thus creating an overflow cascade down the sides and into the larger pot. 


I added a garden hose washer and put some water in the bottom of the pot to see if stayed in.



Step 4 - Start filling with River Rocks and keep testing.


Last, test before you make this thing really heavy and immobile. Fill the top pot with whatever rocks you're using. Add water and run it to see if it works how you want it to. 


We ended up taking ours apart a couple times to get the right effect/volume of fountain spray and overflow. You'll have to look at this thing for the rest of the summer (and hopefully a few more years), so get it right.  


We used some old bricks as filler in the bottom pot. Don't worry, none of that ugly stuff will be visible. Carefully layer in everything finishing with a top layer of whatever stone you want to actually see, and you're done!



The only thing left to do now is pour yourself a glass of wine and relax next to your new fountain.




If you're into simple, affordable DIY's, 
you've come to the right place!  



8 comments:

  1. Great work! The fountain is very beautiful. I really love your blog with the ways to make life easier and so interesting. Keep it up!

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  2. Trying to work it all thru in my head first. When you temp tape the large pot, bondo from the inside to fill drain holes and wire, right? Then "paint the whol bottom to seal." Also with bondo? Tape off of course. Small pot - to seal hose before placing the rubber washer, is that also bondo? How do you take apart and reassemble when testing? Sealed hose is not affected? Finished fountain is just what I want too! Love your colors.

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I'll try and answer everything as well as I can.
      The only part that is Bondo sealed is the wire-hole filling step. The paint covering the inside is just some black spray paint to seal the Bondo and the exposed Terra cotta.
      And the hose washer seal of the top pot just slides over the hose and fits into the drain in the pot - no Bondo needed. That way it can come apart as needed. It does not need to be a perfect seal- only needs to prevent water draining out faster than the pump pumps it in. You could use kitchen and bath silicon too, but that would prevent experimenting and make things pretty permanent. Hope this helps! Thanks for the question and best of luck building your own.

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  3. I see you live in a cold winter climate. How does the fountain do in the winter months? I had one at my last house that I would disassemble every November and reassemble in March. I didn't have all the permanent bondo sealing things, though. I'd like to do another that is less work!

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    Replies
    1. Great question! We do the same as you did. We disassemble it late fall and reassemble it in late spring. It works great! The bondo is no issue at all to do this. :) after disassembling we stored it in our shed - if you brought it all indoors you could avoid taking it all apart though.

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  4. do you have any issues with clogging since you didn't use a filter?

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