This is the expert guide to making a water fountain in your garden. It covers:

  • Anatomy of a garden water fountain
  • Tools you will need to build a garden fountain
  • How to make a garden water fountain

So, if you want to build a soothing water structure in your backyard without breaking the bank, this is the guide for you.

Let’s get started.

Anatomy of a Garden Water Fountain

Before we get into the actual steps of building a water fountain, it can help to understand the basic anatomy of what is happening under the water.

anatomy of a water fountain

A basic fountain is made up of four different components. These are a water basin, water feature pump, fountain head and, of course, water. You may also have an additional fountain sculpture, in which the water will flow.

A water feature pump is the heart of the system. The pump is submerged underwater and does the job of circulating and filtering the water.

A water basin is either a pond or large waterproof tub that acts as a reservoir for the water.

A fountain head is a water outlet that shapes the jet of water. You can choose different water heads to create different water features. For example, a geyser fountain head will create a shooting jet of water, a vulcano fountain head will create a volcano type display and a campano will create an overflow display.

Tools You Will Need to Build a Garden Fountain

Now that you understand the basic anatomy of a garden fountain, you’re almost ready to get building. But first, you need to do a spot of shopping. You will need:

Electricity Supply or Generator

Your fountain will need an electricity supply to power the water feature pump. If you have an outdoor outlet, maybe in a nearby garage or conservatory, you can simply plug the pump into the home water supply and operate the pump. However, if you don’t have an accessible outlet, you will need to purchase a generator. These can be quite cheap and often powered by charging on your home electricity supply or using solar technology.

Water Basin

If you don’t have a pond, then you will need to purchase a large waterproof tub to act as your water reservoir. This could be a plastic storage bin, large wash tub or a purpose built water storage tank. Keep in mind that the basin should be 6 inches wider than the fountain base and at least 1 foot taller than the pump.

Water Feature Pump

You can buy a regular submersible garden pump for your fountain, but we’d recommend looking at a dedicated water feature pump, such as the Pentair Versailles. These pumps are built with special filters to remove debris that enters the water and also have specific outlets designed for different fountain heads (no messing around with copper piping to fit a fountain head). They also come delivered with extra long cables as standard to allow you to easily connect to an accessible electricity supply.

Fountain Head

There are thousands of fountain heads on the market. All of them create a different type of fountain display. However, each fountain head can generally be categorised as one of the following.

A geyser head will create a shooting jet of water. This can be set to continuous or intermittent.

image showing the water display of a gaiser fountainhead

A vulcano head will create a volcano style display, with multiple spray style jets at different heights.

image showing the water display of a vulcano head

A campano head will create an overflow style display, similar to the style you often find in Japanese garden displays.

image showing the water display of a campana fountainhead

Drainage Gravel

If you’re installing a water basin for the first time, then you will need to purchase drainage gravel as your base layer. This will help ensure any excess water easily drains down into the soil below. Without drainage soil, the water can compact regular garden soil causing the basin to move and damaging the foundations of the soil underneath.

Fountain Sculpture

If you’re looking to build a fountain as part of a garden sculpture, you may need a variety of other tools, including stones, decking and plant pots, but for a basic garden fountain, all you need is the above. Please refer to your garden sculpture installation guide for further information on how to integrate the system above with your new sculpture.

How to Make a Garden Water Fountain

So, hopefully you’ve been able to find all the items above. If so, then you’re ready to start building your first garden fountain. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1 - Drain the Pond or Dig a Pump Hole

So, if you’re installing the fountain in a pond, your first job is to completely drain it. This is to ensure you install the pump in the correct place. Plus, when you’re working with electrics, it’s best not to have any nearby sources of water. You can now skip to step 4.

image showing the first step of installing a fountain in a water basin installation

If you’re using a water basin, you will need to start by digging a hole. Start by measuring your basin in width and height. You will then need to dig a whole that is 2 inches deeper than the height of the basin and wide enough to fit the basin.

image showing the first step of a fountain installation in a garden pond

Step 2 - Lay a Base Layer of Drainage Gravel

Lay a 2 inch thick layer of drainage gravel at the basel level of your hole. This is to ensure any excess water can easily drain away and the soil underneath the basin doesn’t become compact and damaged by excess water.

image showing step two in the installation of a fountain in a water basin installation

Step 3 - Set the Basin

image showing the third step in the installation of fountain in a water basin installation

Now place the basin on top of the gravel. The basin should fit snugly, but, if necessary, use your weight to shift the gravel so the basin doesn’t move.

Step 4 - Dry Fit the Pump

If you’re installing in a pond, you first need to find a location for your pump. This needs to be close enough to an accessible power outlet. Once you have an ideal location, use a drill to install the pump on the pond basin. Follow the pump instructions to install correctly.

If you’re installing in a water basin, you need to fit the pump in the centre of the basin. Again, follow the pump instructions to ensure the pump is fitted correctly.

image showing step four in the installation of fountain in a water basin installation

Step 5 - Fit the Fountain Head

Now that the pump is installed, all you need to do is install the fountain head. Follow the fountain head instructions to ensure the fountain head is fitted correctly. This should be a simple case of screwing the head onto the water outlet.

image showing step five in the installation of a fountain in a water basin installation

Step 6 - Finish Up

Fill the pond or water basin with water. Now conduct tests to ensure the pump is working correctly. Try different power settings to find the right display for your garden. Once you’re happy, you’re done. Remember to check the water basin levels regularly, particularly during heatwaves, to ensure the pump has an adequate water supply for operation.

image showing step six of the installation of a fountain in a water basin installation

Free Advice

If you’re struggling with advice regarding water garden fountains, ring our dedicated experts on 0800 112 3134 or 0333 577 3134. We’re open Monday to Friday 07:00 - 17:30 and Saturday 08:30 - 12:30.