Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Solar powered pondless water feature

I have wanted a water feature in the garden for a long time. This year I finally found a solar powered fountain pump that looked like it was worth trying. I had the perfect pot, but I needed the fountain to be kid safe, so I made it pondless. Here's how I did it...
You will need
  • A fountain pump
  • A pot
  • A couple of bricks
  • A rigid grate of some kind preferably something not prone to rust)
  • Screening or landscape fabric
  • Stones
  • Utility scissors and pliers or wire snips

First, I washed the pot really well to get rid of any small particles, then tested the pump with clean water. As soon as it was in full sun, it was ready to go. Any shade or overcast weather, and it slows right down. But that's fine. In fact, the unpredictable nature of the fountain on cloudy days is super fun for the Personal Assistant.

The pot had a ridge built in, so I just needed something sturdy to cut to fit on top. I rummaged around in the basement and found a broken gate. The plastic grate was perfect, and super easy to cut with a pair of pliers or wire cutters.

See? Perfect fit. And the holes were the right size to fit the spray head through easily.

Cut two pieces of screening, using the grate as a guide. Utility scissors are perfect for this. Do not use any of your "good" scissors.

Install the pump in the bottom of the pot with bricks on either side.

Lay the grate in first, followed by the screening. This should be outdoor screening so it won't rust. In order to get the nozzle through the screen you will need to cut a slit to the middle of the circle. Lay it on so that the slits are not overlapping. This will keep debris out of your fountain so your pump won't clog.

This next step is very important:


I didn't the fine particles that came off them got through the screen in enough quantity that the water got muddy and the pump jammed. I had to take it completely apart, clean everything again, and spent the next half hour blasting water through the pump with the hose to clear the blockage. So annoying.

So yeah, you should CAREFULLY WASH THE STONES. Once they are clean lay them on top of the screen. The bricks will help support their weight. Because the pot I used was unfinished inside, I piled the stones thicker at the edges to cover the unfinished part.

Fill the fountain up with clean water to just below the screen/stone layer. You will need to check this periodically by pushing back the stones in the center to make sure the fountain does not run dry, which would kill your pump. Mosquitos should not be an issue because a. there is no pond, and b. even if you use a solar pump like I did the water will move enough that they won't be able to breed.

The wire for my pump runs over the pot edge and up the back of the leg of the swing. I attached it with cable staples and wire ties. This way it is out if reach and plants are not shading the panel.

When the pump is full on, my Personal Assistant loves to run his fingers through the spray. When it is partly cloudy, he leans way over the nozzle and giggles when it suddenly squirts him in the face. When it is not on, the stones are great for studying, collecting and cataloging. (He has found "lady bug stones", "smooth, smooth white stones", "stripe-y stones" and my favorite, "peanut butter stones".) It is so nice to sit on the swing, listen to the water and watch him play. It has been a great kid-friendly, grown up addition to the yard.






  1. This is awesome. So easy and my little guy would love it almost as much as me. Do you know what brand of pump you used or if it isn't just a local shop where you got it? It might make it easier to find one like it and do something similar.

  2. So glad you are going to give it a shot! Please post some pictures when you are done! I used the pump linked below, but if I were to do it again, I would try to find a pump with a filter to make it less susceptible to clogging.


  3. Thanks for the link. My to do list has gotten a bit lengthy so it will be a bit, but I'll definitely post pics when it's done.