Introduction: Rain Shower Contemporary Fountain

Picture of Rain Shower Contemporary Fountain

We had a fish pond in our backyard for many years, and have always taken precautions to protect the fish from hungry animals. In the warm season, we would use a motion detector sprinkler, that would spray water on any animal that came near the pond. During the winter, we put a net over the water. This spring, though, an animal, probably a raccoon, broke through the net and ate all of our fish :-(

So, we decided to get rid of the pond, and install a new, contemporary water feature. For ideas, we searched online, and found this modern design that brings to mind a cooling rain shower on a hot summer day. If you want to take a look at the original, just do a picture search for “contemporary water features”.

We wanted to adapt this design for our small garden, and, to make it more durable, we decided to make it out of solid, pressure treated lumber, which has been drying in the sun for about a month to minimize shrinkage. If the lumber you picked is very wet and heavy, you should let it dry out as long as possible before doing this project. From the original picture, it looked like this fountain was constructed from a frame, surrounded by plywood, with the plumbing hidden inside. Since we were going with solid 6” x 6” lumber, the piping would be exposed, so we went with copper pipes, which is nicer looking than PVC.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

1 . (3) 6”x6”x8’ pressure treated lumber

2. 10’ 1 ¼” copper pipe

3. (2) 1 ¼” copper elbows

4. Blow torch and copper solder OR copper epoxy

5. 3’ of 1 ½” ID plastic tubing and (2) 1 ½” elbows

6. 2’ of Toro Blue Stripe ½” Drip Tubing

7. Pondmaster MDWP-20 Waterfall pump

8. 1 ½” PVC Ball Valve

9. Drill with ¼” drill bit and 1 ½” hole saw bit

10. Router with 1” Dish Carving router bit and ½ “ straight router bit

11. Miter Saw (you can also do this without mitered corners to make things much easier)

12. Oscillating Multi tool OR wood chisel

13. Level

14. Exterior wood stain: we used Behr Premium Solid Color Weatherproofing All-in-One Stain Sealer 7.75 oz. sample sizes: (2) Padre Brown, (1) Slate, (1) Colonial Yellow and (1) Ponderosa Green

15. (5) bags Sakrete 50lb Fast Set Concrete

16. Post hole digger or shovel

17. HDX 55 Gallon Tough Tote plastic storage container from Home Depot

18. 40 mil pvc pond liner 5’ x 8’

19. (8) pcs 3/8” x 6” Landscape Timber lag screws

20. 200 lbs Black Mexican Beach Pebbles

Step 2: Prep the Area

Picture of Prep the Area

We removed the rocks, old pond, cut down the existing trees and bushes, and leveled the surface.

Step 3: Cut and Miter the Beams

Picture of Cut and Miter the Beams

The finished size will be 65” wide x 80” high (this is the exposed size – remember that there is an extra 16” height buried in the ground). This makes our 2 vertical beams 96” each, and the horizontal beam is 65”. Mitering the corners was difficult, due to the size of the beams, so this is optional. If you decide not to miter, just stack the top beam onto the vertical ones – it will still look good, and save you quite a bit of work. If you do this, though, just remember to cut 5 1/2” off the vertical beams to make up for the extra height, and to keep the same height/width ratio of the finished product.

Step 4: Make the Horizontal Beam With Water Pipe Assembly

Picture of Make the Horizontal Beam With Water Pipe Assembly

If we’re facing the fountain, our water supply line will be on the RIGHT side. So, we’re going to start on the LEFT side of the horizontal beam, and cut a channel into the underside of the beam to hold the copper pipe. Since the wood is pretty dense, we’re going to do this in progressive steps. First, use a straight ½” router bit and make a channel ¾” deep. Stop about 1” from the RIGHT end. Then, run a 1” dish carving bit along the left edge of the channel. Finish by running this same bit on the right edge of the channel. This will provide enough space for the 1 ¼” copper pipe.

Next, we’ll finish off the RIGHT end by cutting a 1 ½” hole so the pipe can pass through.

Step 5: Drill Water Flow Holes for the Copper Pipe and Insert Into Routed Beam

Picture of Drill Water Flow Holes for the Copper Pipe and Insert Into Routed Beam

Insert copper pipe into beam. Then Drill ¼” holes into every 1” of the copper pipe. Blow out the metal shavings and make sure inside of pipe is clean. Solder a cap onto the LEFT end of the copper pipe,

Step 6: Cut Right Side Vertical Beam for Pipe Fitting

Picture of Cut Right Side Vertical Beam for Pipe Fitting

Now we have to make a cutout in the RIGHT vertical beam to make room for the pipe. Using a 1 ½” hole saw, cut a channel for the pipe.

Step 7: Finish Copper Pipe Assembly

Picture of Finish Copper Pipe Assembly

Solder the connections. Note that we placed a rag soaked in cold water on the pipe, a few inches from the connection. This keeps the pipe cool enough to prevent damage to the wood while soldering. Next, we take ¼” Toro Blue Stripe drip line, and cut into ½” pieces. We insert a piece into each hole of the copper pipe. This is important, because the tubing causes the water to flow straight down. Without it, the water will flow in uneven directions.

Step 8: Dig Holes for Beams and Water Container – Check for Proper Fit

Picture of Dig Holes for Beams and Water Container – Check for Proper Fit

We’re setting the beams 16” into the ground. The water container is actually a 55 gallon storage bin from Home Depot. You can use whatever size you have available, preferably over 20 gallons so you’re not constantly refilling with water. Make sure your holes are equal depth and the height of the beams are identical.

Step 9: Stain the Beams

Picture of Stain the Beams

First, apply base coat of Padre Brown. When dry, lightly sponge on some Ponderosa Green follow by Colonial Yellow in random patterns. Finish by sponging Slate to form your desired pattern.

Step 10: Set Beams Into Concrete

Picture of Set Beams Into Concrete

It’s easier to set one beam at a time. Make sure it’s straight, level and properly positioned, then pour in the fast setting cement. It only takes about 30 minutes to dry, then you can do the second beam, carefully aligning it to the first.

Step 11: Install Top Beam

Picture of Install Top Beam

Once the concrete base has fully set, you can install the top beam. Secure it with 3/8” x 6” Landscape Timber screws. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SCREW INTO COPPER PIPE!

Step 12: Prep Container Lid

Picture of Prep Container Lid

The storage container we used has a lid, so we just cut a hole in it for the water flow and plastic tubing. If you’re using an open container, you’ll need to put a grate over it to hold the pebbles.

Step 13: Put Water Pump Into Container and Place PVC Liner Over Container

Picture of Put Water Pump Into Container and Place PVC Liner Over Container

Put pump inside container, running tubing and cord out through the hole in the lid. Then cut your pvc pond liner to fit. This fountain does splash a lot of water, so just be sure to allow enough room to catch the water and direct it back to the container. With the pvc liner in place, cut a hole to correspond with the hole you cut in the container lid.

Step 14: Connect Copper Pipes and Water Line

Picture of Connect Copper Pipes and Water Line

Now we solder the last pipe – notice that we used a flame shield to protect the wood while soldering. If you don’t want to solder, there are also epoxies that are made for copper pipes. That would be much easier, but we’ve never used them, so not sure how well it will hold up.

Step 15: Connect Water Pump and Cover With Beach Pebbles

Picture of Connect Water Pump and Cover With Beach Pebbles

We connected a valve to control the flow of water. Without it, the water flow is too strong, so this allows a range of adjustments.

Admire your hard work!

Here’s a shot of our Contemporary Rain Shower fountain at night!

Comments

kapil_goyal (author)2017-06-24

Love the fountain!! This is really amazing. question - did you have any issues during heavy rain and storage container filled up with rain water and overflowed?

kapil_goyal (author)kapil_goyal2017-07-14

Thanks for your reply Grace!!

gracechichi (author)kapil_goyal2017-07-14

Sorry for the late reply and thanks for the compliment! As far as problems with heavy rain, not really an issue as long as you keep the storage container filled with water, especially if you have poor drainage. The reason is if the container is empty, and heavy rains occur and soil becomes saturated, the water will push the container up out of the ground. If you have very poor drainage, you could consider pouring some concrete into the container, maybe half way. This will ensure that the container will have enough weight to keep it in the ground.

Bashman3 (author)2017-03-12

Hello, I have erected the posts, now the pipes. I have a question. When you place the water pump in box, how is that connected to the piping? Mind you, I'm taking the easier route with pvc piping instead of copper. I'm also placing the piping behind the post including the drip line. Also, is the plastic tubing necessary? Or can I just use pvc piping instead?

No one has made any comments for a while, so I hope you see it.

Thank you for your help.

Bash

gracechichi (author)Bashman32017-03-14

Hello Bashman3,

I just used various barbed plastic fittings with stainless steel hose clamps. You can find those in plumbing supply stores, pool supply or fish pond stores.

Regarding necessity of plastic tubing, are you referring to the pieces of toro drip line inserted into the holes of the copper pipe? If so, these are necessary to divert the water pressure inside the pipe, so that the water flows straight down. Without it, the water would shoot out at various angles.

Bashman3 (author)gracechichi2017-03-14

Thank you for your reply Grace. My question is regarding the plastic tubing under the post. I did buy the plastic tube along with the clamps. Is it necessary to have plastic, or can I just use pvc piping starting from the water pump and not use the plastic tubing?
2nd question- after installing the storage bin, did you make a bunch of holes on the yellow lid for the water to get back in? Is the pond liner on top of the bin or just around it?
I apologize if my questions seem juvenile. Thanks again!

gracechichi (author)Bashman32017-03-16

Hi Bashman,It's no problem answering your questions.

As far as plastic tubing vs PVC piping, you can go with either one. I just prefer the tubing because I think it's easier to disconnect and reconnect in case I have to clean or service the pump.

Correct, the holes in the lid is for the water to flow back into the container. The pond liner goes all around the top of the container, and has a hole cut out in the middle so water can flow back to the container. The liner needs to be big enough to catch the water that splashes on the rocks and divert and it back to the container.

AlexA231 (author)2016-08-21

Next, we take ¼” Toro Blue Stripe drip line, and cut into ½” pieces. We insert a piece into each hole of the copper pipe.

how fix this little toro blue stripe?... with glue or what=? thak you

gracechichi (author)AlexA2312016-08-22

The blue strip is friction fitted. As long as you use a 1/4" drill bit, and are careful when drilling, and you use Toro brand blue stripe drip line, you should be able to push the drip line through the hole. I've had mine for over 1 1/2 yrs now, and never had a problem with any of the lines coming off.

AlexA231 made it! (author)2016-04-28

Hello i made it

and i need help for the water part can you help me a little.

robertnamba (author)AlexA2312016-07-16

Did you make yours out of wood also? or is that metal? I'm thinking of making mine from box tubes and wrapping in copper flashing. Curious what you ended up with.

AlexA231 (author)robertnamba2016-08-21

yes. its metal. all metal.

i have problems with pipe

AlexA231 (author)robertnamba2016-07-21

No, i was made in metall and painted oxid.

gracechichi (author)AlexA2312016-04-28

Hey, looks great! What do you need help with?

AlexA231 (author)2016-07-21

this part ? Solder the connections. Note that we placed a rag soaked in cold water on the pipe, a few inches from the connection. This keeps the pipe cool enough to prevent damage to the wood while soldering. Next, we take ¼” Toro Blue Stripe drip line, and cut into ½” pieces. We insert a piece into each hole of the copper pipe. This is important, because the tubing causes the water to flow straight down. Without it, the water will flow in uneven directions.

how you put the little parts of pipe of glow, with? superglue loctite? or something do you have mopre photos of this part? thank you.

gracechichi (author)AlexA2312016-07-26

Are you referring to the 1/4" drip line? If so, those are just friction fitted into the holes. If you're using a different brand of dip line, it may be thinner or thicker than the Toro brand, so you'll have to experiment with the hole size.

kirk.ketterer.3 (author)2016-05-31

Is the drip line in the 1/4" holes just chunks of regular drip line? Since your design is pressured, do you have issues with them popping out? To get a drip effect, do you regulate the flow down until it changes from stream to drip? Is the rate of flow consistent across the entire span? I was going to go with a three row, gravity fed design and have wondered about the drip hole size.

AlexA231 (author)kirk.ketterer.32016-07-21

do you have photos, of the fountain part? i cant make well do you have mail i sent the video.

Yes, the drip line is just regular, Toro brand blue stripe line. This particular brand makes a tight fit in the 1/4" holes, so if you use another brand, you may have to adjust the hole diameter. It's just a friction fit, and I've never had a problem with any popping out. I regulate the flow for a stream effect so it's consistent throughout the entire span. If you go for a drip effect, it will not be an even flow, due to lack of pressure.

mdenefe1 (author)2016-05-12

I am trying to decide what size pump to buy. Do you know what the flow rate is on the pump you have? I don't want to get an underpowered pump and not get the right effect

gracechichi (author)mdenefe12016-05-13

The model I have is Pondmaster MDWP-20. The flow rate is 2000gph. You can google the model for more specs, but you don't need one this large - I just had this from my old pond. I use a ball valve to control the flow rate, and it's only about 1/4 open.

mattsochist (author)2016-04-29

I'm not sure if anyone threw this idea out there or not but if you set up a strobe light focused on the droplets in motion , you will be able to "control" the direction and speed of the droplets. well, visually anyways . thanks for your post

boxbot (author)2015-08-18

Hey! I had an idea for you. You could replace the copper "sprinkler" pipe with acrylic and put an LED light strip behind it to change the colour of the water!

gracechichi (author)boxbot2015-08-20

Thanks for the suggestion! That would look cool, but keep in mind that over time, the clear acrylic pipe will discolor from algae, etc., and won't be so clear anymore. Maybe better to run the LEDs right alongside the water - similar effect but easier to maintain.

Gardengoddess (author)2015-07-18

what is the approximate cost to do this project? It's beautiful!

sorry for the delayed response. I already had a pump from my previous pond, so that saved me some money. I spent about $400 for materials. The major items were:
- (3) 6"x6"x8' lumber - $75 at home depot
- (12) bags of beach pebbles - $150 from local nursery
- 10' 1 1/4" copper pipe - $50
- storage container - $35
- 40mil pond liner - $40 on ebay
- another $50 or so for everything else
If you need to buy a pump, that will add another $100 - $150. I also added a remote control switch for the pump later, so I can easily turn it on and off. That was about $15 on amazon.

SaraWest (author)2015-06-16

Night fountain looks good

kathy.temple.75 (author)2015-06-09

Curious why you went with 1 1/4" pipe? Would something smaller work or is that size necessary for good water flow? Really like the look, maybe add EL wire for the lighting? It's waterproof & lots of colors available.

It was a toss-up between 1" and 1 1/4" pipe. The 1" might have worked too, but we figured might as well go with the bigger pipe to be sure. You don't want a pipe that's too small, because you're pumping water to a height of over 6'.

We've never used EL wire for lighting. Looks interesting though. That's the fun part - you can totally change the look and feel of this by experimenting with different lighting.

jeanniel1 (author)2015-06-04

Well, this won't be done in California for awhile - but I love the idea! Great Instructable!

gracechichi (author)jeanniel12015-06-05

Thanks!

Yes, water situation is pretty bad there. FWIW, though, this doesn't really use a lot of water as it's just recirculating.

timkaiser45 (author)2015-06-03

Love the fountain, but you need to do an instructable on that fence behind.... awsome!

gracechichi (author)timkaiser452015-06-04

Here's another pict of the fence

timkaiser45 (author)2015-06-03

my bad... just found the instructable on your privacy fence.... but how about the cutouts for the ones in this instructable... just awsome... especially the flute guy... it just all works so well together

gracechichi (author)timkaiser452015-06-04

Thanks, glad you like the fence. People have been asking about that fence for a while, so I put up some patterns on my site, which you can download for free, but alas, no flute guy yet (Kokopelli). We were just playing around with different shapes, seeing what looked cool.

ZaneEricB (author)2015-06-03

very nice... i need to do this in the corner of my yard.....ya got my vote ;-)

gracechichi (author)ZaneEricB2015-06-03

Thanks, appreciate the support!

jimvandamme (author)2015-06-03

A pulsed LED light would look really cool and freeze the droplets in motion. With a motion detector that would change the colors when someone moved past, or make the droplets "change direction".

gracechichi (author)jimvandamme2015-06-03

That would look really cool at a party, especially after a couple glasses of wine!

morfioos (author)2015-06-03

VERY nice :)

gracechichi (author)morfioos2015-06-03

Thanks!

eatteyah (author)2015-06-02

terrific .. Very Good idea and project ..

But I think if you put the light under the water line even in the above or submerged in the ground will be more beautiful ..

gracechichi (author)eatteyah2015-06-02

Great suggestion. We actually considered putting a light under the water,but not sure about placement. We didn't want the light to be too obvious during the day, so we then considered a row of waterproof led tape lights under the rocks (similar to the light dry river bed instructable we posted previously). Problem is, don't know if those led's are totally waterproof, or just water resistant. Anyway, this is definitely something to consider further.

NecoLED Sam (author)gracechichi2015-06-02

You can choose IP68 waterproof LED tape.

gracechichi (author)NecoLED Sam2015-06-03

Thanks! Searched on amazon and found a few with an 8 water rating. Should be pretty easy to splice into existing low voltage lines, don't even need a separate transformer. Gonna give it a shot!

Cueball21 (author)2015-06-02

Wonderful!!

I'm gobsmacked. Definitely gonna do something like this.

Thank you, Grace!

gracechichi (author)Cueball212015-06-03

Great! Please share your results with us. It's a lot of work, but worth it!

Rachael K (author)2015-06-02

Wow great job!!! I've seen this style fountain on pinterest for a while
but could never find the original link with actual instructions. You're
instructable is exactly what I needed! Thanks for posting this. :)

gracechichi (author)Rachael K2015-06-02

Yes, gotta give credit to the original designer, whoever that may be. Couldn't find any instructions either, so had to come up with our own version. As mentioned in the instructable, though, it looks like the original is made from panels surrounding a frame, although this is just a guess.

Rachael K (author)gracechichi2015-06-02

I'm thinking it was just a picture that kept getting recirculated like a lot of things on there. I really love the beams on your fountain though, such a great idea.

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Bio: Love design, gardening and cooking. Combining all three together - even better!
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