Garden Water Fountain Build

I’m not a huge fan of garden water fountains, mainly because I have to maintain them, but my wife likes them so I do them.
Over the years we’ve had a number of different fountains. Some homemade, some store bought. The wife decided it was time for a new one and gave me 3 ceramic sunflower plates we haven’t used in a long time. She said she wanted to use these to make a new fountain. Challenge accepted

Biggest plate is about 16 inches in diameter. The general idea I had was to have a bucket base and a stem that run up the center of the plates. Water would go up the stem and cascade down from the top and back into the bucket

Found a cheap 10 quart bucket at Walmart that was somewhat flower pot shaped. Cut off the handle flush with the rim and painted it green.

The stem was made from 3/4" schedule 40 pcv pipe. The pipe was going to be anchored into the bucket with some cement, so some large holes were drilled into the bottom end to allow the concrete in. A slot was also cut into the pipe to allow tubing from the water pump to run up the inside.

Quickrete makes a 10 lb bag of cement which is great for small projects like this. I used about 7 lbs to give me about a 2.5" thick base.

To center the pipe, and have it perpendicular to the bottom of the bucket, I Iaser cut a positioning jig from 2 layers of flat cardboard. The bottom layer fit just inside the bucket top and the top layer was the size of the outside diameter of the bucket top edge. Glued together with some spray glue.
(Note there is a secondary pipe which is going to hold some mini float switches for an auto refill feature I will be adding later.)

Used a small machinist square to make sure the pipe was straight up and down. Let the concrete cure for a few days

In order to drill holes in the ceramic plates I order a set of inexpensive diamond coated hole saws from Amazon.

To get accurate placement of the holes I laser cut some positioning jigs from 1/8" ply and tacked them in place with some duct tape. Placed a small piece of wood under the hole plate to help prevent too much blow out as the hole saw came though the back of the plate.

The 3/4" SCH 40 pvc pipe has an outside diameter of about 26.7mm. The closest hole saw in the set above that was the 28mm saw, which was fine since I didn’t care about a tight fit.

Drilled the bottom and middle plate with the 28mm saw.

I was only planning to run the tubing and a 3D printed coupler through the top plate, so I used a 16mm saw for the top.

To support the bottom and top plates on the stem, I 3D printed some collars from PETG. Included a space on the inside edge for a recessed stainless steel nut and set screw (M3).

Using a 158 gal/hr rated pump that has an adjustable flow rate. This is a good size pump for most small fountains. You can get one pretty cheap at Harbor Freight. Ran a piece of 3/8" silicone tubing up the stem and connected to the pump at the bottom.

Drilled some 10mm holes in the bottom plate, close to the center, to allow water to drain back into the bucket. Laser cut another positioning jig for this as well.

3D printed a coupler for the top plate that fit into the stem pipe and was sized to allow the inner tubing pipe to come through. Also adjusted the outside diameter of the top of the coupler to be a tight fit to the hole I had drilled.

Turned out really nice.

It has a small amount of splash out, which isn’t ideal, so I’ll have to keep an eye on it until the parts for the auto refill come in from AliExpress. I’ll also use an algicide to keep down on algae growth.


Thats a great build, essentially under the pressure of “a wife”!

Thanks for sharing.


Nice one!

Our fountain drives me nuts, the pump is always plugged with leaves.

Bet the ceramic drilling was nailbiter…


Yeah, this design shouldn’t have problems with clogging, but I’ve had that issue with past fountains as well. Usually used some filtration foam to act as a coarse filter, but you would still need to clean it out periodically.

The diamond hole saws were actually very smooth drilling. The trick is getting them started because they like to jump around until they start a groove. Using the laser cut hole jigs made it very easy to get started though.


Very impressive! Nice repurposing of old plates.

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We dont have fountains in the UK, we have constant “rain” :laughing:


‘until the parts for the auto refill come in from AliExpress’ this sounds interesting, do tell. I’m working on an all singing all dancing plant propagator and have been pondering how to auto water the seedlings. I’m controlling the air vents via a temp/humidity sensor and micro servo, the grow lights via an optical/light sensor, the heat pad via a soil temp sensor, and I can trigger an auto water system via a soil moisture sensor … I know, I know, it’s OTT but it’s my first project learning the arduino and C++ … so I’ve gone over the top. I would be interested in the mechanics/electronics of your auto re-filling system.

For my purpose the auto refill is going to be relatively simple in that it’s just about refilling the water reservoir ( aka the bucket) when it reaches a certain minimum level.

I found these purpose built 12V water level control PCBs that monitor the state of 2 contact switches to control a relay switch.

The contact switches will be these mini float switches. These float switches come in a lot of different forms. (Different lengths, right angle, dual floats etc).

The relay will switch a 12V NC solenoid valve that will provide the water.

They also make control boards that just use 3 wires to monitor the relative conductivity between them to control the relay. You wouldn’t need float switches for these as long as your water has enough conductivity.

If the bucket is deep enough you could just use a toilet fill valve. :smiling_face:


They even make small float valves similar to toilet valves if you wanted to avoid the electronics. In hindsight I may have gone for this instead.


Those are used in pet water bowls. I had one when I had dogs.


They are cheap enough so I went ahead and ordered one.

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These have no moving parts :slight_smile: (corosion on bare wire in tank??))

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back when I had a fish pond and waterfall I used a toilet valve behind the waterfall and connected it to my law sprinklers. This way, there was little worry of it leaking and flooding pond+yard since it only was topped off 3 times a week for about 10minutes.

Raccoons and Herons decided they liked the gold fish too. It was almost 3’ deep in the middle but the destruction the Raccoons caused was enough to eventually give up.