Monday 24 February 2014

How to install a water feature

 Recently it was my mum's birthday, the big six-oh. My brother and I were wondering what to get her, and decided a water feature would be an ideal gift. They are pretty expensive to buy as a kit, so we thought we would DIY one. There are plenty of instructions online if you google 'Pot Fountain', and we also watched this video which was really helpful!

Here's what we did to install our pot fountain water feature.

 You will need:
-A pot. Ours is about 800 mm tall. We bought it from Pottery International who were super helpful, and also had it coated with "ponding" - a waterproof coating to help protect it and prolong its life.
-A length of PVC pipe to go up the inside of the pot, approx 20 mm diameter
-A length of flexible tubing (we used hosepipe)
-A connector to go in the base of the pot and connect the hose and PVC pipes together (shown in the above picture attached to the hosepipe)
-Plumbers' kneadable waterproof putty
-A pump (1500 litres for an 800 mm tall pot)
-A large plastic bin with lid
-Bricks or concrete blocks
-Pebbles or decorative stones
-Power drill

Here is a rough diagram I made showing how everything fits together. It's pretty simple, all you have to do is put it together!

 This is the bin we used for our reservoir. It's a 52 litre plastic bin with a lid. (Use the bin to transport a bit of sand for lining your hole!)

 Dig a hole the size and depth of your reservoir. Line it with the sand - this helps to level the bin without having to keep digging.

 Put the reservoir in and make sure it's level. Fill in around the bin with sand and soil.

 Put some bricks and/or concrete blocks in so they line up with the top edge of the bin. You might need to experiment a bit to get the right height. These will support the weight of the pot and stop it toppling into the bin.

The concrete block on the bottom had a bit missing out of one end which was handy for leading out the pump cord - otherwise it would need to come out between the 2 bricks.

 Cut the PVC pipe to fit within your pot, a couple of centimetres below the rim. Here's a close up of the connector fitting we used - we found it in the plumbing section at Bunnings. You jam the pipe into the connector then screw the blue piece onto it. We removed the blue piece from the bottom (where it connects to the hose) but left it on the top piece so there would be something to stop the pipe from slipping through the hole in the pot.

Put the pipe inside the pot, making sure the connector goes through the hole at the bottom. Apply the plumbers' putty in a ring around it and smooth it with your fingers to fill all the gaps. Use more putty if you need to. (It's a good idea to check before you buy a pot if you can reach in with your arm and reach the bottom - otherwise you'll have a lot of trouble with this step.)

 The plumbers' putty dries really fast, so I made a collar out of a piece of cardboard to hold the pipe in place, nice and central. Then go and have a cup of tea.

 After about half an hour the putty inside the pot should have cured. Wedge the hose pipe into the connector on the outside, then cover it with putty. Hooray, it's easier on this side!

 Cut the end off the bin lid above where the pump will go. (This is so you can access the pump without having to dismantle the whole thing later.) Make sure the cut end rests on a brick so it doesn't sag and fall in.

Make a hole in the centre for the hosepipe to pass through. Then make it bigger to fit the lump of putty you just put around it. Drill holes in the lid for water drainage.

 Connect the hosepipe to your pump. Our pump came with three different sized connectors which could screw into the pump, so we chose the one that best fitted the hose. Put the pump in the reservoir - its cord comes nicely out the gap in the lid.

Then, fill the reservoir with water and test the pump. You might need to adjust the flow to make the fountain more or less splashy. 

Once it flows to your liking, cover the reservoir lid with stones. Then sit back and enjoy!

Pumps don't generally come with very long cords, so we had to run an extension cord. It's hidden in the bushes to the right of the fountain. An electrician will probably be required at some stage in the future to put in an outdoor power point, but for now (since it's summer) the cord is tucked up in a waterproof plastic bag when not in use. We made a waterproof case for the connection of the pump plug and the extension cord out of a plastic lidded container with small slots in the sides for the cords to come out. It's hidden away under the ramp so it's protected from the weather.

 Tip: check the water level after you've had the fountain running for a while. We were surprised at how much water it went through after running all day. You might want to get into the habit of topping it up with a watering can after each use. It would also pay to check the water level if it's been several weeks since you've last used the fountain.

I'm looking forward to installing my own water feature one of these days!


  1. Hi Ruth, thanks for a great instruction, I have wanted a water feature like this for ages in my garden but I don’t have electricity outside. Where did you plug it in, that was the only bit you didn’t say anything about?
    I have looked at solar powered water pumps, but I understand that they are pretty useless all of them, at least as long as the sun isn’t shining brightly – and that would probably be only 3-4 weeks in the summer. So unless I move to California I suppose I can just continue to dream :-)

    1. Good point Helene, I'll edit the post and talk about that :) I wouldn't use a solar pump either, I like the idea of them but they just aren't powerful enough. We ran an extension cord temporarily, since there isn't an outdoor power point yet.



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