Sitting in my backyard one day I decided that the calm, bubbling white noise from a water feature is just what I needed when relaxing after a long day of work. But… water features are just so… overdone. A fake rock or a fake pot or a fake lion mouth that spills water gracefully into a cheesy bucket where you can usually see a tube that carries the water back up to the top.
Honestly… this type of stuff is just not for me.
So, I created a pondless water feature instead… one that actually looks real. And built-in. And like it took you way longer than a few hours.
Yep… that’s right. You can build this in a few hours… with very little DIY skills or know-how.
What’s so interesting about this particular design is that the basin is “invisible” so it looks like water from the fountain is just seeping into the ground. How the heck does that work?
Keep reading to find out how it works. And how you can build this easy and super cool pondless water feature in literally just one afternoon!
Build a Pondless Water Feature in ONE Afternoon!
A pondless water feature is a really easy DIY project that will add a lot of peacefulness to your backyard or curb appeal to your front yard. It can also be a pretty cool visual effect, as the water will disappear into your base.
Pondless water features have like ten different names… but most commonly people call them disappearing, pondless, or invisible fountains (water features, waterfalls, bubblers, etc etc).
Why choose a pondless water feature?
Well there’s a few reasons why you may want this type of fountain:
1. It’s a great option if you have a limited amount of space.
2. You like to be different and you like cool things (yes and yes).
3. It’s more eco-friendly than a traditional fountain (requires less water).
4. You have children or pets that you don’t want to worry about falling into the pond, destroying the pond, jumping into the pond, etc.
5. You don’t want the extra maintenance of having water plants or fish in your fountain.
6. Because I said it was easy to make.
Materials for your Easy & Cool DIY Water Feature
- Medium Submersible Fountain Pump — I got mine on sale at Harbor Freight… just make sure it’s adequate for the size and depth of your basin (about $18).
- Water basin — I got mine at the big box for about $20… there are lots of sizes and shapes to choose from… I got one that looks like a planter… it’s very deep and about 2ft in diameter (about $20-$25).
- Grate to cover water basin — look around your house before buying. An old metal grate from your cooking grill will work, or one of those expandable cooking grill replacements should do the trick. I actually used a piece of metal with holes in it from an old steel desk I had laying around. (about $20-$25).
- Hardware cloth — need enough to cover the length and width of your water basin (about $12).
- Garden stakes — you’ll use these to secure the hardware cloth (about $10).
- Mesh Screen Food Cover Tent (optional) — I used this to cover the fountain pump inside of the basin… keeps the junk out too. You can get these at the dollar store (about $1-6).
- Shovel, dirt, rocks.
Cost of a DIY Pondless Water Feature
This particular pondless water feature project should cost you a total of $60 – $100.
This cost does not include any decorative rocks you may purchase (I just searched around the woods, etc. for the ones I used).
How to build your pondless water feature
Ok great… lets get started! Pictures of these steps are below.
1. Dig a hole to fit your basin. I actually built my fountain inside a raised garden bed, which worked out great…. A lot less digging. But, you can put this anywhere. Just make sure that you bury the basin but keep the top of the basin level with the ground so that you can set the grill on top at exactly ground level.
2. Put your basin into the hole and backfill the outside to make sure it’s nice and secure.
3. Assemble your pump and place it at the bottom of the basin.
4. Set the mesh screen food cover tent over your pump, and then place some rocks/stones along the edges to hold the mesh down so it doesn’t float away when you fill the basin with water. Like I said, this is an optional step but it seems to make a lot of sense and will keep any debris from getting into your pump and causing it to clog up.
5. Set your grate on top of the basin and dirt. Make sure it overlaps the edge of the basin so that any rocks or other items you place around the fountain won’t fall in.
6. Once your grill is in place, cover the grate with the hardware cloth. This is basically chicken wire, and adds an extra layer of support for any rocks. Since the hardware cloth has really small gaps between the wires, you won’t have to worry about smaller rocks falling through the grate.
7. An additional optional step you can take at this time is to cut a “trap” into the hardware cloth. I did this by measuring my pump and cutting 3 sides of a rectangle into the hardware cloth to create an opening I can put my hand into. I then folded the cloth back down, but if I ever need to access my pump I know that I can reach it through this hole without having to take the entire fountain apart. Make sure you remember where the hole is. Yeah, that’s pretty obvious right? But… after this is all set up, it’s pretty easy to forget where it is so I’m going to say it anyway.
8. Make it easy to access the trap in the future. That means you need to place your stones carefully around the trap so it’s covered but not a big PITA to move them. Trust me… this will save you a lot of trouble when you have to take your pump in for the winter. Or when have to replace the pump if it wears out from you running this every day of your life because it’s so awesome. 🙂
9. Use the garden stakes to secure the hardware cloth to the ground so it won’t slide around.
10. Cover the edges of the hardware cloth and grill with dirt.
11. Place decorative rocks or other objects onto the hardware mesh/grill area that is above the basin. This is where you can get creative and even make a waterfall, pump station, or any other awesome idea you find on Pinterest. Experiment with all of the sprayers that come with the pump and see which one you like. You can also purchase packs of additional fountain nozzle heads if you’d like to. This type of fountain works the same as the regular pond fountains so go crazy!
12. Fill your basin with water
13. Turn on your pump & enjoy! Make sure you check the water level of your basin from time to time so that you don’t burn out the pump. Since the water is underground, you are less likely to have evaporation so you shouldn’t have to fill the basin up too often.
Just be sure that when the water splashes off your stones that it will still make it into the bucket.
Otherwise, you’ll have to keep filling your basin and that’s really no fun.
So, if you want a big old splishy splashy fountain, you may need to get a wider basin than I used. They do sell options that look more like a pond or even a large plastic tote size if that’s how you roll. I like keep my fountain at a little bubble bubble not a big splish splash… so the basin I chose works really well for that.
Check out the photo gallery
I told you this was an easy DIY project. And there’s just so much room for customization and creativity. Just think, in an afternoon you can have a beautiful, soothing water feature to relax to all summer.
Just dig a hole for your basin and put your pump in, cover it with a grill and hardware cloth, and decorate with rocks or other found objects.
I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with… so PLEASE send me a photo… the easiest way is to sign up for my email list then hit REPLY to one of the emails. It goes straight to me!!
Thanks so much for reading, and post any questions to the comments area so everyone can benefit from the answers.
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