Picture of 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.
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Step 1: Finding the Parts

Picture of Finding the Parts
Step 1 numbered.jpg
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"

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.

JosieMagee7 months ago

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.

mertin (author)  JosieMagee7 months ago


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:

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!

Valster4 years ago
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!
mertin (author)  Valster4 years ago
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.
ssyyssr4 years ago
Thanks very much. It was a lot of fun looking for things
mertin (author)  ssyyssr4 years ago
Thanks, Glad you had fun. How did the project go?
calicos4 years ago
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!!
mertin (author)  calicos4 years ago
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.
betsmc4 years ago
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...
mertin (author)  betsmc4 years ago
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.
I really like the idea of looking in thrift stores for items you normally wouldn't think of using. This is a great instructable.
mertin (author)  Very Interesting5 years ago
Thanks very much. It was a lot of fun looking for things to use.
Uncle Kudzu5 years ago
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!
mertin (author)  Uncle Kudzu5 years ago
Thank you very much.
pleabargain5 years ago
Very clever. Good on you!
mertin (author)  pleabargain5 years ago
LittleWolf5 years ago
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!
mertin (author)  LittleWolf5 years ago
Thanks for the very nice comment.
mikeasaurus5 years ago
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.
mertin (author)  mikeasaurus5 years ago
Thank you very much. Glad you liked it. That means a lot coming from a multiple winner and pro!