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How do I Build a Water Fountain?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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When people want to build a water fountain, they generally either want to build a water fountain meant to placement in a landscape or indoors, intended for decorative purposes. Alternatively, they want to build a water fountain meant to provide water for drinking, generally for humans, but sometimes for animals. Both types of fountain are useful, but they are quite different, and here we will look primarily at how to build a water fountain for decorative purposes, touching only briefly on building a drinking fountain. In both cases, a fair amount of work is involved, and many people find it much more convenient to find a relatively affordable pre-made fountain and modify it to their needs.

A fountain may come in one of many different types, but most people who want to build a water fountain these days want to build one that jets the water into the air using pressure. This sort of pressurized water fountain can be seen throughout the world, from the ornate marble fountains of Rome to fountains hidden under the water of Lake Geneva to the iconic fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Generally, however, when setting out to build a water fountain for home use, something a bit more modest is kept in mind.

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The first thing you’ll need to build a water fountain of your own is a simple garden pump. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but there are two numbers you want to look for, in addition to price, and that’s the length of the power cord, and the volume of water displaced. In the United States, garden pumps are given in terms of GPH, or gallons per hour, while in Europe they are given as LPH, or litres per hour. For a small project, anything above 100 GPH (375 LPH) is sufficient, and more than 200 GPH (750 LPH) is likely to be more than you want, unless you are building a fountain for a large pond.

The simplest type of fountain to build is one in the middle of a small pond, as it can easily feed water from the pond and spit it right back into the pond. If you decide to build this style of fountain, you’ll want to set up a pond as well, if you haven’t already. Most garden supply stores have small plastic pond liners for sale, which are ideal for building a small outdoor water fountain in the garden.

When you’re looking at the size of the pond you want to build, look at the volume your pump can displace. Generally, you want a pond no larger than twice the volume of your pump’s hourly flow. That means if you have a 100 GPH (375 LPH) pump, you will want a pond no larger than 200 gallons (750 litres). You can also work in reverse, but generally the pump is the limiting factor, and it is easier to fit your pond to your pump flow.

Once you have the supplies, you’ll basically just dig a hole out for your pond liner, insert it and pad it with sand to make it sit level, and then get to work on the fountain itself. If you want, you can just have the pump running freely beneath the surface of the water, so that a jet of water burbles up from the pond. Most people, however, prefer to find a piece of statuary, and drill a hole through it for the water to pass through, seating it on top of the pump so that the water seems to originate from it. The sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing your small fountain, and nearly anything you can think of can be done with the right amount of work.

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