For desert dwellers, the sound of flowing water may not only bring peace and tranquility after a busy day, but also create the illusion of being in a cooler environment on a hot summer night. Adding a fountain to your patio or courtyard can be easier and less expensive than you might imagine if you do-it-yourself.
Written and photography by Cheryl Fallstead
This type of fountain is a closed system, with a water catch basin at the bottom into which a submersible water pump is placed. A hose from the pump goes through a pot, spilling water over the top, down the sides, and back into the catch basin to be pumped to the top again.
1. STEP ONE:
Find the perfect pot and assemble your materials.
❏ Pot – It can be tall and thin, short and round, or anything in between, however it needs to be glazed so it doesn’t dissolve and have a neck that is narrower than the body. If it doesn’t have a drain hole, you need to drill one.
❏ Waterproof Basin – Such as a cement-mixing tub, to hold the water.
❏ Submersible Pump – Needs to be adequate to lift the water the height of your pot. You can likely find one for about $20.
❏ Hosing – A little longer than the distance from your basin to the top of your pot.
❏ Grate – To hold the pot above the basin and through which water can run. It can be something as simple as Plaskolite, which is made as a louvered ceiling light panel and can be purchased at a hardware store, or a welded combination support and grate if you have the equipment and ability.
❏ Bricks or Cinder Blocks – To support the grate above the bottom of the basin.
❏ Decorative Pot Top – Over which the water will run.
❏ Glass “Gems” – To place in the top and hide the hose.
❏ Rocks – Or other material to hide the grate.
2. STEP TWO:
Decide where you will place your fountain and dig a hole the dimensions of your basin. Make sure the base is level so your fountain will sit straight. If you want your fountain to be placed on an existing hard surface, another option is to place a metal container on the concrete and put the basin inside that.
3. STEP THREE:
Place the basin in the hole. Space bricks in the basin evenly where the pot will be placed to provide support where most needed. The photo shows an “H” pattern, which works well.
4. STEP FOUR:
Attach the hose to the submersible pump and place it in the basin between the bricks.
Run the hose through the grate and place the grate on the bricks. Another option instead of a grate, is glazed tiles, ensuring they are below the level of the basin top to allow the water to drain back into the basin and there
is a space to run the hose to the pot.
5. STEP FIVE:
Insert the hose through the hole into the bottom of the pot and push it towards the top of the pot. Set the pot on the grate with the hole matched directly over the hose, ensuring you don’t crimp the hose.
6. STEP SIX:
Insert the hose through the bottom of the decorative top for the pot. You can use anything waterproof through which a hole can easily be drilled, such as a pretty metal bowl discovered at a thrift store as in the photos or a glazed pot saucer that either fits into the neck of the pot or sits on top of and extends beyond its edges. The hole should be slightly smaller than the hose to hold it securely or use clear silicone to hold the hose in place.
7. STEP SEVEN:
Get creative! You can fill the decorative top of your fountain with glass “gems” to add interest and hide the hose. You’ll also want to cover the grate at the base of the fountain. If you use rocks, make sure they won’t dissolve in water, which sandstone will. River rock or an eclectic rock collection works fine. If you used tile in step four, you’ll only need to use additional tile or rocks to cover the edge of the plastic basin.
8. STEP EIGHT:
Pour water into your basin, plug your fountain in, and give it a few moments to pull the water to the top of the fountain and begin spilling over the sides. Adjust your decorative top as needed to direct the water where it will be most seen and make sure the hose is hidden in your glass gems.
9. STEP NINE:
Put up your feet, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy the evening!
Tips & Tricks
- Remember to add water regularly to the basin.
- If you have a drip head nearby, you can direct one line into the basin to provide a regular water source.
- Clean out the basin every few months to prevent sediment and leaves from clogging the pump.
- In the winter when the water won’t evaporate as quickly, add a few drops of bleach or vinegar to your water to prevent algae from growing.