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Do-It-Yourself Spray Fountain, Overflow & Bubbling Fountains

Do you want to build your own water feature? Follow these do-it-yourself tips.

By Stephen G. Noble

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I thought it would be fun to create a Do-It-Yourself, pondless water feature using inexpensive and easily obtainable materials.  The goal of this project was to show the materials and steps using everyday items rather than displaying a prefabricated picture perfect kit.  The total cost of my project was about $100 dollars with the pump being the most expensive item.
Materials:

  • Reservoir - 16-inch diameter, tropical plant pot, 8-gallon capacity
  • Reservoir grate - barbeque grate with hinged access panels
  • Debris screen – 18x14 mesh size plastic
  • Pump – 1200-gallons per hour, submersible pond pump
  • Vinyl hose – 7/8 inch outside diameter, 4-feet in length
  • Stainless steel hose clamps sized to match hose diameter
  • Overflow fountain – Fiberglass flower pot 4-gallon capacity
  • Decorative rocks

Preparation:
1. Reservoir - Plant pots usually have drainage holes that must be sealed in order for the pot to hold water.  Seal any small drainage holes 1/4” or smaller using epoxy or aquarium sealer.   Large holes require a plastic patch.  Old water bottle caps (turned upside down) make excellent patches when sealed with epoxy or aquarium sealer. 
2. Reservoir grate – Most hardware stores sell stainless steel, replacement barbeque grill grates.   
3. Debris screen – cut your screen about two-inches wider than the barbeque grate to ensure it completely covers the grate.
4. Pump – make sure the pump has sufficient capability to send water to the highest point of your water feature.   Most manufacturers provide data specifying the maximum vertical height their pumps can send water.  Use hose clamps to make a tight connection between the hose and the pump. 
5. Drill a hole through the bottom (center) of the overflow fountain pot.  Insert about three-inches of vinyl hose through the hole and seal it with aquarium sealer.  Let the sealer dry for 24-hours.


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Notes:
1. A reservoir that has more water capacity than the decorative pot allows this water feature to be easily converted from a spray fountain to an overflow fountain without major modification.  Spray fountains normally don't require large reservoir's since the water jets into the air and immediately falls back into the reservoir.  But an overflow fountains need a sufficiently sized reservoir to provide enough water to fill the decorative pot and still have enough water remaining in the reservoir to prevent the pump from running dry.
2. An overflow fountain can be easily converted into a bubbling fountain by connecting a piece of rigid tube to the vinyl hose inside the overflow fountain.  The rigid tube should extend to about one-inch below the water's surface.  See diagram.   If desired, the bubbling action can be off center by simply tilting the rigid tube to create a less symmetrical appearance.
3. For success use this order of assembly:
a) Prepare hole and insert reservoir.
b) Place brick and pump in reservoir.
c) Install grate.
d) Cover grate with screen.
e) Thread the pumps power cord through the hinged access making it possible to remove the pump later without removing the grate.
f) Position pot on grate, thread the vinyl hose through the grate and connect the vinyl hose to the pump's outlet.
g) Fill the reservoir and pot with water then plug in the pump to ensure the system functions properly.
h) Cover the grate with decorative stones.

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