Fountains can be an eye-catching accent piece that will brighten up an outdoor garden or walkway. Sadly, their captivating beauty typically comes at a cost ranging from $150 well into the thousands. Fortunately, we can show you how to create your own outdoor water fountain at a fraction of the retail price.
To make an outdoor water fountain, you will need basic materials, such as a pot, some sheet metal, tubing, a fountain pump, and some decorations. Fasten the pump to the tubing, feed it through the pot, attach it to a lid of sheet metal, and decorate the lid. Simple, easy, cheap.
Read on for a detailed, step-by-step process of how to build an outdoor water fountain. In addition to the necessary steps, we will also include essential equipment and the general cost of each water fountain after completion.
Making an Outdoor Water Fountain
Most outdoor water fountains can be made from simple materials you might even have laying around your garage or shed. In its most basic form, all you really need is a container, a water pump, tubing for the pump, and some type of decorative filling, such as rocks.
Listed below are three unique outdoor water fountains you can build yourself quickly and without breaking the bank.
Water fountains are just one thing from our list of 20 Outdoor Water Feature Ideas article.
Garden Planter Outdoor Water Fountain
This garden water fountain is great if you happen to have a large planter you don’t use or want to repurpose. It also requires simple materials such as small to large rocks you can find in your yard and a plastic bucket that might just be idling in your shed.
The culmination of these simple materials results in an elegant and refined aquatic experience.
- First, measure the diameter of your planter using the measuring tape.
- Now, halve the planter’s diameter measurement on your measuring tape. You will use this to create a center point for your circle on your sheet metal.
- Place the metal end of the tape measure at the sheet metal’s and measure half the planter’s diameter towards the sheet metal’s center. Make a dash at this point. From here, turn the measuring tape perpendicular, and use the same measurement to make another dash in the center of the sheet metal that should form a cross.
- With a piece of wire or string, cut a strip the length of half the planter’s diameter.
- With one hand, hold your piece of string or wire at the center point you have created in the sheet metal. With the other hand, hold the string out to its full length with your permanent marker at the end.
- Hold the string taught and use your permanent marker to create a circle around the center point that should be the same diameter and circumference as your planter.
- Using your metal cutting sheers, cut out the circle.
- Create a line from the center of the circle to the edge using your permanent marker, then cut it with your metal cutting sheers.
- Now cut a hole in the center of the circle, using your metal cutting sheers, that is 1-1 ½ inch in diameter.
- Take the two ends of the metal circle where you cut a line, and overlap the edges, creating a funnel, until the circle’s lip is about 2-inches in the air.
- Hold or clamp the circle in this funnel shape, then, using your electric drill and self-tapping sheet metal screws, screw the overlapping circle ends together to solidify the funnel shape.
- Using your black Rust-Oleum spray paint, paint the inside of the sheet metal funnel.
- Once the funnel is dry, we can start assembling.
- Optional: If you are ok with your electric cord hanging over the side of the planter on its way to your power source, you can skip this step. If you want to hide the cords, use your flathead screwdriver and hammer to carefully chip a larger hole into the bottom of your planter until it is large enough for your power cord to slip through. This will then connect to your water pump so that you can hide your cords in the planter.
- Place your 5-gallon bucket inside your planter and fill it ½ to ¾ of the way with water.
- Grab your water fountain pump and attach the airline tubing. You could tape this for security or find an additional piece of rubber tubing that will fit over the pump end and the airline tubing where they connect.
- Then, place the sheet metal funnel inside the 5-gallon bucket. The shape should funnel into the bucket. If the funnel looks like a dome, it is upside-down, and you need to flip it.
- Feed the airline tubing through the hole in your sheet metal funnel. This is why it is important to have firm, plastic tubing that can stand straight to create your fountain rather than a flimsy rubber tube that will bend over.
- Cut your airline tubing, so it ends about 3-inches above the top of the funnel.
- Either tape over the hole surrounding your airline tube or cover it with a large rock.
- Using your packs of river rocks, cover the rest of the metal sheet funnel.
- Using the larger rocks, lay them in a circle around the outside of the planter.
- Finally, plug the pump into a power source.
Here’s a video of a similar project to get ideas from:
Terra Cotta Outdoor Water Fountain
A stunning terra cotta water fountain will add an extra element of charm to your garden aesthetic. You can place this water fountain amongst your flowers or on a stand somewhere on your deck or on your lawn.
If you have a series of terra cotta saucers and pots waiting to be used, build them into this soothing masterpiece.
- Using the Rust-Oleum spray, coat the inside of the 14-inch saucer. After this coat has dried, repeat this step two more times to ensure the saucer is waterproof.
- While you wait for the 14-inch saucer to dry, soak all of the other terra cotta saucers and flowerpots in water for at least one hour. You will want to keep them all fully submerged, so it is best to either soak them in a deep sink or a 5-gallon bucket. Soaking these pieces will make the process of filing and drilling easier and prevent cracking.
- After everything has soaked, you can choose to spray and waterproof all saucers and pots with the acrylic concrete sealer. Spraying them might ensure maximum longevity but is only required for the 14-inch saucer.
- Remove the 7-inch saucer from the water. Using a small block of wood or foam, place the 7-inch saucer over the block, so the bottom is facing up. The block will support the saucer while you drill.
- With the electric drill and masonry bit, drill a hole into the center of the bottom of the 7-inch saucer.
- Check to see if the hole is big enough for the plastic tubing. If the tube can’t feed through the hole, use the round file to enlarge the hole so the tube fits through perfectly.
- Remove the 6-inch flowerpot from the water and file four notches around the flowerpot’s lip using the round file. These points should be equidistant from each other like the points on a compass. One notch must be large enough to feed the plastic tubing through after it is placed face-down on the 14-inch saucer.
- Remove one of the 4-inch saucers from the water and file four points in the saucer’s lip, similar to the 6-inch flowerpot. These notches can be equal in size since you won’t be feeding the plastic tube through this saucer.
- Remove the 7-inch saucer from the water and place it upside-down on your drilling block and drill a hole in the center of the saucer large enough for the plastic tube.
- Now, file one notch in the lip of the 7-inch saucer. You’ll want to file this notch at a significant slant for better water flow since this will function as the primary waterspout.
- Attach the plastic tubing to the submersible garden water fountain pump and place the pump in the center of the 14-inch saucer.
- Turn the 6-inch flowerpot upside-down and place it over the fountain pump on the 14-inch saucer as you feed the plastic tube through the hole you created in the pot.
- Place the 7-inch saucer on top of the 6-inch flowerpot and feed the plastic tubing through the central hole.
- After the tube is properly fed through the flower pot and saucer, make any necessary adjustments to ensure the fountain pump is laying flat on the bottom 14-inch saucer.
- Once everything is positioned properly, trim the plastic tubing until only ½ inch is visible.
- Using your silicone sealant, seal the edges around the plastic tubing to the 7-inch saucer and leave it to dry.
- Place the 4-inch saucer with the four notches upside-down over the exposed plastic tubing.
- Next, place the 4-inch flowerpot upside-down on the 14-inch saucer next to the terra cotta structure you just made.
- With the 6-inch saucer, file one slanted notch in the lip, then place it on top of the 4-inch flowerpot.
- Place a 4-inch saucer upside-down next to the second terra cotta structure (this saucer does not need any notches).
- With the last 4-inch saucer, file one slanted notch in the lip, then place it on top of the upside-down 4-inch saucer on the 14-inch saucer base.
- Fill the 14-inch base saucer with water just below the rim and plug in the water pump.
- As the water flows to the top of the first terra cotta structure, adjust the notched saucers at the top of each structure until the water flows from one structure to another seamlessly.
- Once you have properly placed all of the saucers, you can use the silicone sealer for added stability.
- Decorate the saucers with river rocks when you are certain everything is in place.
- Optional: You can also decorate the fountain with aquatic plants, or you can place a potted plant atop the 4-inch saucer covering the plastic tubing.
Here’s a helpful video showing a terracotta outdoor water fountain being built:
Rain Curtain Outdoor Water Fountain
If you’re looking for a sturdier and larger staple piece for your yard or garden, this curtain fountain is perfect. Although this option is a bit more involved than those previously listed, it’s worth the effort.
A fountain of this size and caliber typically costs $500- over $1,000, so, although this option is pricier than those listed above, it is still a fraction of the retail cost with the same astonishing impact.
- 1, 55-gallon rectangular storage bin
- 1 can of white spray paint
- 1 Quikrete Quik-Tube Cardboard Concrete Building Form Tube 4 Ft. L x 8 In. Dia.
- 3, 2 in. x 4 in. x 10 ft boards
- 50 lb. Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix
- 11, 5/8 in. x 5.5 in. x 6 ft. cedar fencing boards
- Wood glue
- Boiled linseed oil
- 5ft. 1,200-gallon waterfall pump
- 1-inch corrugated hose
- 2 stainless steel hose clamps
- 48, .25-inch nozzle pressure compensating drippers
- 1 slip-on 90-degree PVC adapter
- 1, 4 ft long PVC tube with an end cap
- 1, 8 oz can of purple PVC primer
- 1, 8 oz can of PVC cement
- 10-20lb worth of landscaping marble stones or pebbles of choice
- Dirt tamper
- Retractable utility knife
- Electric drill
- Electric saw
- Concrete hand tool
- BernzOmatic high-intensity trigger-start torch (or a similar torch) with propane
Here’s a helpful video of a rain curtain water fountain with steps below it:
- Choose the location you will be building the rain curtain fountain. Once you’ve chosen your spot, flip over the 55-gallon storage bin where you want the fountain and outline the bin with the white spray paint.
- Cut your concrete building form tube in half using a retractable utility knife.
- Using a shovel and dirt tamper, dig a hole in the outline of the storage bin. This hole should be just deep enough to set the bin inside and have it level with the ground. The sides don’t need to be exactly straight, but there needs to be enough room lengthwise for your bin and two concrete forms. The bottom of the hole must be flat enough that the bin is level after placing it inside.
- After you have placed the 55-gallon bin, place your two concrete building form tubes on either side of the bin lengthwise. The tubes should be the same height as the 55-gallon bin.
- Once everything is placed in the hole properly, fill in the spaces around the bin and tubes with dirt using a shovel.
- Start constructing the rain curtain water fountain frame. With your 2-inch x 4-inch x 10-foot boards, create a frame that measures 5-feet x 4-feet x 5-feet using your electric drill and saw.
- Once the frame is properly screwed together, place it into the middle of the two concrete forms over the 55-gallon bin.
- Mix your fast-setting concrete mix, fill the two concrete forms, then level them off with a concrete hand tool.
- Before the concrete sets, use your leveler to ensure the frame isn’t leaning one way or another. Once it is properly leveled, secure the frame in place with some of your scrap boards.
- After you are certain, the cement has dried, and the frame is secure, start creating the faux cedar beams with the cedar fencing boards. With your wood glue, attach two, 5-foot boards on the outside of the two 5-foot pillars. Then attach one 4-foot cedar board on top of the 4-foot frame top.
- Now, attach two cedar boards perpendicular to the frame top. This will create a horizontal faux beam effect.
- Below this horizontal beam, attach two cedar boards on each out-facing side of both posts.
- You want the inside of the beams to be hollow, so screw two, 5-foot cedar boards on the inside of each arch pillar. The screws, versus the wood paint, allow you to remove the boards whenever necessary. Note: you may wait to screw one board in until after the sprinkler unit has been installed.
- After creating your faux beams, weatherproof the wood by burning or charring the wood with your torch until it reaches the preferred color. This is an ancient Japanese method known as the shou sugi ban, and the wood must be sufficiently charred for it to be effective.
- Using a brush, clean off the charred/burned wood. Then, using the boiled linseed oil and a paintbrush, paint the frame with 3-4 coats of the oil until you notice the product no longer seeps into the wood. Afterward, wipe off any excess.
- Setup your pump and connect the 1-inch corrugated hose to the pump spout. Secure this connection with a stainless-steel hose clamp.
- Screw holes along the 4-foot PVC tube, all one inch apart. Place one pressure compensating dripper in each hole.
- With the purple PVC primer, paint around one end of the PVC tube. Then, paint the PVC cement on top and attach the PVC pipe end cap.
- Repeat the previous step on the other end of the PVC pipe, but attach the 90-degree PVC adapter instead.
- Attach the corrugated hose end that is not already connected to the pump to the 90-degree PVC adapter.
- Using a drill and several 1-inch ratchet clamps, attach the PVC hose sprinkler to the inside of the top faux beam in your cedar wood frame.
- If you have screwed the cedar boards into the inside of both posts, remove one board to fasten the corrugated hose inside with more ratchet clamps, and then replace it when you are finished.
- Create a 2-inch hole in the lid of the 55-gallon bin to run the corrugated hose and any wires inside. Make sure the corrugated hose can reach the water source.
- Using an electric drill, create a series of holes throughout the lid of the 55-gallon bin for drainage and recollection of water.
- Fill the 55-gallon bin ½ to ¾ full of water.
- Be sure there are enough soil and small rocks around the 55-gallon bin, then line the bin’s perimeter with large, relatively flat rocks. You can either use rocks around your yard or purchase large landscaping stones.
- Fill the space on top of the 55-gallon bin lid with the marble rocks or pebbles of your choice.
- Finally, plug the rain curtain fountain into a nearby power source.