How to Build a Fountain

A fountain can serve as a beautiful addition to almost any area of a home, whether inside or outside. Building one will cost approximately $200-$300 US, and only requires the strength to lift heavy stones and dig a hole.


  • Pump
  • ½” copper pipe
  • Waterproof basin
  • Stones
  • Small rocks
  • 1” PVC Conduit
  • Silicone adhesive
  • Drainage gravel
  • Composite decking
  • Screen
  • ½” ball valve
  • ½” by ½” compression female adapter


  • Utility scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Pipe cutter
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Drill fitted with 5 1/8” masonry bit
  • Hand saw
  • Caulk gun


  1. Dig a pit 2” deeper than the basin and wide enough for it to fit. Between the pit and the nearest exterior outlet, dig a narrow, shallow trench.
  2. To set the basin and conduit, lay a 2” thick bed of drainage gravel in the pit; put the basin on the gravel and shift the gravel so the basin will not rock.
  3. Determine the distance from the outlet to the pit’s edge and cut a section of PVC conduit to this length. Thread a string through the conduit and tape one end of it to the pump’s plug. Pull the plug through the conduit and tape it securely to the end of the conduit so it won’t be pulled back in. Lay the conduit in the trench and backfill over it.
  4. Centre the pump in the basin and lay the screen over the pit; at the spot directly over the threaded outlet on the pump, creating a marking. Also, mark the screen where the edge is closest to the conduit.
  5. Cut a 1” wide circle at the centre mark with utility scissors. Then cut a three-sided flap big enough to allow you to reach in and remove the pump for repair at the conduit mark.
  6. Cut a 4” section off the end of the copper pipe; unscrew the compression fittings on the ends of the ball valve, then the brass ring or ferrule onto the long section of pipe. Insert the pipe into one end of the ball valve and finger-tighten the nut over the ferrule onto the valve. In the same manner, attach the short section of the pipe to the valve’s opposite end.
  7. Affix the adapter’s threaded end to the pump outlet. Disassemble the compression end and slide the nut, then ferrule over the pipe’s short section. Using compression fitting, connect the pipe and the pump. Tighten all compression nuts an extra ¼ turn.
  8. Add 2” drainage gravel to the bottom of the basin. Lay the pump in the basin’s centre with the pipe sticking up. Slide the screen over the pipe; ensure the access flap is near the conduit.
  9. Saw sections of decking long enough to extend beyond the pit a few inches on either side. Lay decking across the pit on top of the screen.
  10. Stack stones attractively, numbering each in pencil to track their order when unstacking them.
  11. Lay stone on a flat surface. Drill through the stone’s flat side. Repeat for all stones.
  12. Thread stones over the copper pipe until they’re stacked and balanced. Mark the pipe where the stones end. Remove the top stone and use a pipe cutter to cut the copper pipe ¼ inch below the mark. Replace the stone.
  13. Add enough water to the bin to rise 5” above the pump. Open the ball valve, plug in the pump, turn it on and check the flow. Adjust the pressure with the ball valve.
  14. Finish by making the structure permanent with silicone adhesive between the stones. Allow the adhesive to dry completely then turn on the fountain again. Camouflage the base with small stones.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a bucket of water near the drill. Intermittently pour some on the stones to wet them; it will also keep the drill bits cool as you work.
  • Check the water level of the basin regularly; replenish it to keep the pump constantly submerged.
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