Build Your Own Water Feature
by Robert Ferguson
Water features are an attractive addition to your backyard that can improve your mood -- and your home's value. Building one yourself will not only save money, but it's also a great DIY project for the whole family.
A stacked stone waterfall is a simple water feature you can build over the weekend. The type of stones you choose for your waterfall is up to you. Flagstone, boulders or indigenous stones found in your area or on your property are fine. Flat stones work best as you can simply stack them on top of each other in a fairly sturdy manner.
Other materials you'll need include:
- Small gravel or stone
- Pond liner
- 5-gallon buckets with lids
- Pea gravel
- 1-inch elbow
- 1-inch male adaptor
- Garden hose
- Spray paint
- Silicone caulk
- Corrugated pond tubing with clamps
- A small piece of carpeting
- Hammer drill
- Cordless drill
- 1-inch masonry drill bit
- Caulk gun
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Drill bit set
- Utility knife
- Tape measure
- Garden rake
Before starting, choose a location for your water feature and mark off the perimeter of the fountain basin in the desired pattern. Now excavate the area. The basin requires a shallow end, approximately 4 inches deep, and a deeper end to accommodate the 5-gallon buckets.
After removing the dirt from your fountain basin, line the entire area with a pond liner (pliable plastic/rubber matting you can purchase at most home improvement centers or landscape supply companies). An optional piece of indoor-outdoor carpet placed underneath the pond liner provides additional protection from punctures, especially under the heavy stones of the fountain.
Drill holes through the sides and bottoms of the buckets and place them in the deep end of the basin so their rims are about 6 inches below grade. Add enough gravel around the pails, about 6 inches or so, to create a plateau for the pump pail. The rim of the pump pail should be even with the basin rim.
Notch the side of the pump pail to accommodate the water and electrical lines. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to make the necessary connections to the water pump and place it in the pump pail. Cover the pump pail with a lid and use the remaining gravel to fill around the pails.
To create the waterfall, stack your stones and pick one that will serve as the fountain stone through which the water will flow. Choose carefully as this will be the centerpiece of your feature. You can test several stones by pouring water over them to determine the flow and pooling properties beforehand. Once you've selected your fountain stone, drill a 1-inch hole through the center of it.
Run the pump's water line around the waterfall and through the hole in the fountain stone. Route the water line underneath stones, gravel or around landscaping to conceal it. Insert the end of the water line into the hole in the fountain stone using silicone caulk to secure it in place.
Use an outdoor extension cord to plug in the pump or hire an electrician to install an outlet in the vicinity of the pump. Whichever route you choose, use extreme caution when working with electrical current, especially when water is involved.
While filling the basin with water, place any decorative stones, plants or other features around the waterfall to complete the project. Turn on the fountain and enjoy your creation. Just remember to maintain an adequate amount of water at all times in the basin to avoid damaging your pump.
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