One telling sign that a DIY project instructional is useful is if the information provided can be replicated. With Plant-Smart Living, we have set as a goal to provide valuable and useful information that you can apply to your every day life. One of our popular videos and articles has been How To Build a Backyard Fountain for Your Garden or Patio for Under 65 Dollars. As PSL has been created as a team effort, with most of us behind the scenes, we decided to try a little experiment in one of our backyards to put Farmer Fred's instructional to the test.
While most of the team does not have the deep rooted experience of Fred, having worked as an independent contractor for decades, his How To guide provides enough detail for someone (like myself) to take on a first backyard project with great success. I decided to test the waters and install a backyard water fountain for under 150$ dollars myself. Of course, you may notice the cost is a little bit higher than the original, and the main reason for this is because I opted for a slightly larger plastic fountain base and required a more powerful fountain pump as well. Still, I cannot complain as being able to revolutionize my backyard for 150$ is still quite a feat in and of itself.
Why I Wanted a Backyard Water Fountain
I have struggled with making my backyard somewhere that I want to spend time. With the hustle and bustle of every day life and working long shifts, it can be a struggle to get outside and actually enjoy nature. My patio became overgrown with weeds and had an assortment of things just lying around I've had no use for, but never really had time to clear out and get rid of. The area where I decided to install my new backyard water fountain was also severely overgrown with many, many weeds making it a blemish on a yard I knew could look better.
I made an effort to follow the original instructional put together by Farmer Fred, only making minor changes to account for the specifics of my project. This includes opting for a larger pond & fountain pump kit. For the most part, all other required materials and tools remain the same.
My Required Materials:
- Beckett Fountain Pump (280 GPH)
- Beckett Fountain Nozzle Kit
- Mechanical Timer
- Plastic Pond Tub (many varieties available)
- Bricks (or similar heavy device for elevating fountain pump)
- Assorted Flat Stone (optional)
- 1 Bag Pond Rocks
Please keep in mind that the specific tools you may need may vary depending on how you are setting up your fountain. As I am installing my tub partly in the ground, it requires a little bit more effort and energy to install. You can, however, install your garden fountain above ground. This is far easier if you do not want to bury the plastic tub.
- 1 Foot Torpedo Level (if you want to save some money and are doing a small scale project likemy own, consider downloading the iPhone application iHandy, which is a free level I used for this project)
- Hand Rake
- Measuring Tape
- Short 2x4 Wood
- Stone Temper
How To Install a Backyard Water Fountain
It turns out that installing a backyard water fountain is pretty easy, even for a complete novice to any "significant" home renovation projects like myself. Of course, it does require some energy to dig and install, but in the scheme of home DIY projects, this was not difficult at all. Let me walk you through my process for completing this.
- Identify the area in your backyard that you want to install the water fountain fixture. In my case, I knew the area but spent a couple days removing weeds and working on other areas of the backyard simultaneously.
- Decide on what plastic pond tub you want. There are many options available online through retailers like Amazon, as well as in store at places like The Home Depot and Lowes. I happened to get mine for free from a family member who had no use for it, which actually partially inspired my taking on this project when paired with the video and write up I saw Fred had done.
- Find the appropriate dimensions for installing your plastic tub. You can use a measuring tape to make this process easier. As seen in the image above, I had measured out the general dimensions that I would need the hole to be.
- Dig out the area required for your pond fixture. You will want to be sure you have somewhere to put the excess dirt and soil, such as a wheelbarrow. Any excess dirt I moved to the back of my yard where it is out of sight.
- Add stone to the base of the area you dug out. For my backyard garden fountain, I added about 2” of stone. The reason why this is important is because you want the plastic tub to rest on a good, solid surface. This will allow your backyard fountain to stay in the same position for years to come, without concern of the fountain shifting positions.
- Level the stone using the hand rake and stone temper as you did with the soil.
- Use the level to verify that the stone is level. By doing this, you will assure that the plastic tub will sit at a level position, and as a result the water in the tub will be equally dispersed.
- Insert your plastic tub into the hole. I use a piece of 2x4 wood laid across the tub, then my level to verify that the tub is correctly leveled.
- Begin to fill the area surrounding your tub with soil. You can use your hand rake to pull some soil surrounding the tub (if applicable to your specific fountain area). You will also want to use your shovel to replenish the dirt that was initially removed.
- Use your stone temper to pat down some of the soil surrounding the edge of your plastic tub. It is important to have the soil as settled as possible in this area, just like at the base of the plastic tub!
- Now that the plastic tub is firmly in the ground, and the surrounding soil is in place, you can add flat stones around the perimeter of your tub to make it look more natural. Of course, this is not a requirement by any means, but it is something I did as it is more pleasing to the eye. You can opt not to do this, or can use some other media to hide the plastic edges. I am currently considering adding moss to the edge, but have to do more research before I jump into this.
- As I was not in a rush to complete this project and, again, a novice to this sort of thing, I sprayed down the area with water after I had compacted the dirt to let the ground settle overnight. I also added some heavy pieces of slate to the plastic pond in order to keep it weighed down.
- Proceed to fill the tub with water. If you are adding pond rocks (as I did to the base), you will not want to fill it up to high until these are added. . I brought it up within a few inches from the top.
- Install the Water Fountain Pump & Nozzle per the instructions provided. There may be some variation depending on the brand that you use. For my backyard water fountain, I used a pump and nozzle kit by Beckett. The model I used (Beckett Fountain Pump (280 GPH) comes with an adjustable flow regulator which allowed me to dial in the size and spread of the water as it is ejected from the pump, which worked perfectly to get the fountain flow you can see in pictures and video.
- You may need to elevate your fountain pump, I used some slate and bricks I had lying around for this purpose.
How to Enhance Your Backyard Water Fountain
It seems to me that the best part about installing this backyard water fountain was experimenting with making the aesthetic "my own." Some simple things I did to "enhance" my backyard water fountain was to lay down a new layer of mulch and purchase some flowers to put in terracotta pots. In the weeks since the install, I have also added solar powered lights by Moonrays. These look really great and continue to bring the pond to life during the evening hours. I continue to work on sprucing up the rest of the backyard and patio area as well, having since added some string lights to add more ambiance and purchased a 35$ outdoor rug that seems to bring everything together.
All in all, this was a fairly easy project that has greatly enhanced my backyard living space. I never thought I would have had the capacity to make this sort of change to my own backyard with such ease, and for such a relatively low price. Since installing my backyard water fountain, I have found myself sitting outside sipping on some tea and just reveling in the relaxing sounds it makes. I've even caught myself staring at the flow of water just to be mesmerized. A backyard water fountain can add a lot of value to your landscape, too!