How to Make a Fountain With Materials You Already Have

Learning how to make a fountain isn't hard, and making one from materials you already have can be a fulfilling experience. At its most basic, a fountain is simply a reservoir of water recycled by a pump. Once you wrap your mind around the simplicity of a fountain, you quickly come to realize that creating one is more about creativity than engineering.

How To Make A Fountain: Start With The Reservoir
The reservoir of a fountain is the basin that holds the water that is circulated by the pond  pump. One of the best places to look for a reservoir is in your garden. An old watering can or galvanized tub can make a great fountain reservoir. That whiskey barrel you used as a planter last year would make a great reservoir once it was waterproofed with some pond liner.

Perhaps the simplest reservoir you could find in your garden is a clay pot. Clay or terra cotta pots are great for starter fountains because they simple to use and already have access holes drilled through them. Stacking a couple of pots can quickly create an interesting waterfall effect. If you decide to use clay pots, be sure to seal them with acrylic sealer to make them completely waterproof.

Anatomy Of A Fountain
Once you've decided on a reservoir, you'll need several other parts to create your fountain:

  • A pump. Electrical fountain pumps are rated by the number of gallons they pump per hour (GPH). Your pump should be submersible and sized to match the size of your container. For smaller fountains, 60 to 150 GPH should be plenty. Make sure your pump is rated for outdoor use if your fountain is to be used outside. Another important rating is the "max head" value. The max head is the maximum height the pump will effectively carry water. If the outflow of your fountain is above the max head rating, water flow will be diminished.
  • Tubing. Flexible plastic tubing will allow you the most freedom when constructing your fountain. Tubing should be sized to match the outflow vent of the pump. Covering the tubing as you construct your fountain will protect it from UV damage.
  • Camouflage. Once the parts of your fountain are in place, you'll want to cover them. Small stones or aquatic plants are a good way to cover the pump and tubing in your fountain.

Building A Clay Pot Fountain
Although these instructions are for a clay pot fountain, the same basic steps are used for other types fountains:

  • Placement. You'll want to place your fountain near an outlet. For safety, the outlet should have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI outlet is like a mini circuit breaker that will keep your pump from creating an electrocution hazard.
  • Place your pump. Select a large pot for your reservoir. If this pot has a drainage hole, it should be sealed with silicone caulk and allowed to dry. Place the pump in the bottom of the pot. Your reservoir pot can be free standing or buried in the ground, depending on your design choice.
  • Make a cage. Surround your pump with a loose fitting cage of chicken wire to protect it from damage.
  • Attach tubing. Attach the outflow tubing to the pump, leaving plenty of extra tubing. Trail the tubing and power cord out over the edge of the pot.
  • Fill the reservoir. Fill your reservoir loosely with thumb to palm-sized stones, taking care not to damage the pump, tubing or power cord.
  • Place the spillover pot. Place a second, smaller pot on the stones in the reservoir. The pot can be level, to create a spillover effect or tilted to create more of a waterfall look. Insert the tubing into the spill over pot and cut the tubing so that an inch or two projects into the pot. Seal the area around the tubing with silicone caulk and allow it to dry.
  • Conceal the tubing. Add more stones to the spillover pot to cover the outflow tubing.
  • Add water. Add water to the reservoir until it just comes up over the stones. Plug the pump in and enjoy your new fountain.
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