Introduction: How to Make a Three Tiered Garden Fountain

Create the effect of an expensive fountain for your garden at a fraction of the cost by making one from parts found in thrift shops.
You will also need spray paint, epoxy putty and, if you don't already have them, a pond liner, pump and tubing.
Here's how to do it.

Step 1: Finding the Parts

Decide about how tall you want your fountain to be. Then look in thrift shops, yard sales and/or flea markets for the following items.
1 A base. This will be the tallest part of the fountain.
2 A basin, for the lower level. It will be and largest diameter basin.
(In the picture, it's the top of the table)
3 A spacer for between the lower and middle basins. This will be shorter than the base.
4 The middle basin, smaller in diameter than the lower basin.
5 Another spacer, shorter than the middle one.
6 Another basin, smaller in diameter than the middle one.
7 A decorative top for the water to flow out of.
You may want to get some extras for experimenting with when stacking the parts to see how they will look.

The items in the photo are ones I found.
The two items with question marks were not used.
Ideally, the basins would be like very shallow bowls, but these flatter ones work surprisingly well.

Of course, what you find will be different.
Maybe even better!

Step 2: Checking the "Look"

Now stack the pieces to see how they look together.
Try alternative parts, if you have some, to select the best looking group.
Think only about the shapes and sizes. The differences in materials and colors will be overcome by spray paint!

Step 3: Drilling Holes for the Tubing

Next drill holes in the centers of the parts for the water tubing to go through.
I drilled the holes slightly smaller than the tubing, expanding them with a regular bit until the tubing had a snug fit. The holes could be drilled slightly larger than the tubing and the gaps filled with a paintable sealant.

Step 4: Insert Water Tubing and Fasten Parts Together

This step required some improvising.
Although I drilled through the bottom of the table (as pictured for step 3), we decided to stand the table in the pond. If the tubing had gone out the bottom, it would have been too low for the pump.
Also the center spacer turned out to be made of rather hard metal and I decided not to drill through it. You can see the tubing passing along the left side, but it's barely noticeable when finished.
Also, because I couldn't put screws or bolts through the legs to attach to the basins, I used metal fasteners tightened over the legs and epoxy putty pressed into the gaps. (Picture 4a)
The top spacer seemed a little short, so I added another piece I found at home, held in place with epoxy putty. Again, these are barely, if at all, noticeable when finished. (Picture 4b)

Step 5: Painting the Fountain

To give a good finish and protect the parts, I chose to paint with a spray can paint made to cover any type of surface with a brown "Hammered" finish.
It took nearly two cans for two coats, several hours apart.

Of course, even with the leading brand of paint, the wood parts will not hold up indefinitely exposed to water, and you may want to use only metal or heavy plastic parts.

Step 6: Place in Pond, Attach Pump, Adjust Water Flow, Enjoy

Place in Pond, Attach Pump, Adjust Water Flow, Enjoy
Title pretty much says it all.

Comments

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KellyW41 made it!(author)2016-05-01

I did this with a table lamp I found in the trash, even using the metal rod, electric cord stripped out, in 2010! My landlords had a plumbing business right next door, so I was always keeping over to see what fun stuff I could find in their scrap barrel. When draining and cleaning the water tub, I would try out different combinations of my basic three tiers with spacers such as upside down colored flower pots, wide diameter metal pipes, anything that would balance the tiers well. It was my very favorite part of my garden!!

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YvonL made it!(author)2015-06-18

Very cool, it looks like you were able to get all you needed at the thrift store. Did you get the statue of the boy there as well, or did you make that too? Knowing now how to apply the sealant and pumping system, I can get really creative in making a fountain, like using a couch or a clock or something.

Yvon Lebras | http://www.omniquemall.com/dept-30110

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JosieMagee made it!(author)2014-08-11

Lovely. Can you use a solar powered pump or must it be electric? I want this fountain in our front drive about 50 ft from the house. Also, how possible is it to drill through stone in the case I decide to use something like that? I would love to purchase a grand fountain but "have a husband" lol so I have to be creative.

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mertin made it!(author)2014-08-11

Thanks.

Good question. A solar pump should work fine; assuming the panel gets enough sun, (which here in western WA is a problem) and if the pump will lift the water as high as you want. Usually, but not always, the pump description will include how high a water column it will support, as well as how much water per hour it will pump..

I haven't tried drilling through stone, but here's a link to an example:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Gard...

One thing I thought about, but haven't tried, is using quick setting concrete mix to form something around a pipe. That could be as free form, rustic or elagantly molded as one likes. And there are lots of concrete finishing options.

Let me know how it goes and maybe post an instructable of your creation!

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Valster made it!(author)2010-04-13

Very cool. 
How big of a pump (gallons per hour) did you use?  Also, wooden parts can be coated with Plasti-Dip. It comes in a spray can. Don't know if you can paint over it or how submersion will affect the wood.
I have several wooden tiki heads on the ground for 4 years (3 seasons, stored in winter).  I sprayed 4 coatson the bottons and about an inch up the sides.  No signs of rot or deteriation yet. It may help your next table last longer.
Again, nice job.  I bet it sounds great, too!

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mertin made it!(author)2010-06-28

Thanks, Very sorry not to respond sooner. I don't know about gallons per hour. The fountain pumps I looked at were labeled on the package as to how high a column of water they can produce. You've probably already seen that if you shopped for one. Also, thanks for the tip re Plasti-Dip. I'll use that. Thanks a bunch for the compliments.Yes, it does make really nice watery sounds. Let me know if you made one.

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ssyyssr made it!(author)2010-04-14

Thanks very much. It was a lot of fun looking for things

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mertin made it!(author)2010-06-28

Thanks, Glad you had fun. How did the project go?

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calicos made it!(author)2010-04-16

Wow... this is incredible.  I've been looking at just plain fountains and found the costs to be un-defend-able.      I love to make things, to be 'crafty' and thrifty at the same time - this satisfies both urges.   Thank you for this instructable!  You did a great job!!  I'm so looking forward to making one for our yard/garden as well as one for my daughter-in-law.   I'll have 'my' grandkids help make it - hopefully in time for Mother's Day!   Thank you again - and, I love this website!!
:-)

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mertin made it!(author)2010-06-28

Thank you very much for the very nice compliments, I share those "crafty" and "thrifty" urges, :-) Did you and the grandkids make one? I'd love to know how it went. Thanks again and apologies for the slow response.

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betsmc made it!(author)2010-05-09

Love this!  Can you tell me where the pump is?  You mentioned the tube couldn't come out the bottom of the table, it would be too low for the pump...

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mertin made it!(author)2010-06-28

Thanks.
Sorry for the delayed response; I've been out of touch.
The pump is under the water in the pond liner (base). The black thing coming down from the middle of the first tier and curving slightly to the left is the tube.
The fountain was dismantled for the winter, but I think we had the pump sitting on something to protect the liner.
Thanks again for the kind compliment.
Makes my day.

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Very+Interesting made it!(author)2009-07-26

I really like the idea of looking in thrift stores for items you normally wouldn't think of using. This is a great instructable.

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mertin made it!(author)2009-07-26

Thanks very much. It was a lot of fun looking for things to use.

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Uncle+Kudzu made it!(author)2009-07-20

very cool! obviously, there might be durability issues with the wood, but other than that, you've got an artsy, repurposed, one-of-kind piece of water sculpture going there. i love it!

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mertin made it!(author)2009-07-21

Thank you very much.

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pleabargain made it!(author)2009-07-21

Very clever. Good on you!

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mertin made it!(author)2009-07-21

Thanks

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LittleWolf made it!(author)2009-07-20

At first I thought it would look more traditional, but I was a little skeptic of it turning into what it did, which is, a very unique fountain. Very inspiring! A few ordinary things turned into a very interesting piece. Thank you for sharing it with us!

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mertin made it!(author)2009-07-20

Thanks for the very nice comment.

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mikeasaurus made it!(author)2009-07-20

Great results, looks just like the real thing. Perfect for summer! Good job on throwing in the disclaimer in Step 5 regarding exposing wood to water.

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mertin made it!(author)2009-07-20

Thank you very much. Glad you liked it. That means a lot coming from a multiple winner and pro!