Introduction: Backyard Recirculating Splash Pad

My kids love playing in the splash pad at the water park, and I figured I could build one for my yard.

Of course I could have just turned on the hose, but there's a bit of a drought going on where we live, so thats why I made it recirculate.

I've already built a water table based on theerikjohnson's instructable:

This would be similar, but bigger.

Step 1: Materials

Reservoir Deck

Plastic crates or plastic pallet - I used four crates measuring 24" x 16" x 6". I found them on craigslist. a plastic pallet will work too.

~2 ft 2" diameter pvc pipe

lumber for border - I used about 16 feet of 2x8 boards that a friend had lying around

Reservoir Padding - I used hardwood floor underlayment, but a tarp or other thin padding should work too.

Plastic Drop cloth - I used 9'x12' .5 mil and doubled it up, but get as thick as you can find.

Anti fatigue foam floor padding - I used three 2'x2' squares

Shade cloth - 6ft by 5 ft.


Zip ties

8 deck screws

Water transport

Water pump - I used a bilge pump from harbor freight 200 Gallons per hour, for about 20 bucks. downside is you need a 12 volt power supply. you can use an AC powered fountain pump, but you will need to take some extra precautions

plumbing from pump output to pvc 3/4" pvc

Wiring for pump - I used 16 gauge zip cord

Power supply for pump

PVC pipe - I used 3/4 inch

PVC fittings -

4 each PVC side outlet elbows

1 PVC T with one threaded connection

1/2" x 6 inch cut off sprinkler riser

4 each 1/2" threaded endcap

Step 2: Reservoir Deck Frame

I made my Reservoir Deck out of plastic crates. I was considering using a plastic pallet, but I was able to get my hands of these crates quicker.

The downside of these crates, is that they bend a bit when I stand on them, so I zip tied some two inch pvc pipes to the center of each crate.

Lay out the four crates and measure them. I got 48"x32". Then I added 3 inches for the pvc pipe to get the inside dimensions of the frame. I added three more inches to the shorter sides so the lumber could be screwed together. this gave me 51"x38"

Cut your lumber to size. I cut my 2x8 lumber down to 6 inches wide (if you buy a 2x6, it will only be 1.5x5.5) then I cut two 51 inch long boards and two 38" long boards.

Screw the frame together using deck screws.

Lay the underlayment pad or tarp over the wooden frame

Step 3: PVC Nozzle Frame

I used mostly slip fit pvc couplers in the areas where the pipe would be captured by the frame.

Cut the 3/4 inch pvc to surround your reservoir deck with a side outlet elbow at each corner for the sprayers. I have the inlet come through one of the handles of the baskets.

Plum the water pump to the frame using whatever tubes and pipes work for you.

I used a lot of zip ties to keep the pump in place on the basket so the inlet filter would be facing down when the crate was set in the frames.

Drill a small hole in your endcaps and put them on the sprinkler risers and screw them into each corner elbow.Be sure to drill at an angle so the water doesn't spray straight up. You want the spray to land somewhere on the deck of the splash pad.

I test fit the nozzle frame, deck frame and deck at this time.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Lay the green underlayment over the wooden frame

Then place the plastic drop cloth over the frame and and press the pvc nozzle frame in place.

Next place the pump mounted crate into it's position and attach the nozzle frame to the pump.

Take the antifatigue mat and cut slits for the water to drain through. I eventually went with cuts about 1/4" thick, running about a third of the length of each mat.

Place the mats on the crates

Cover everything with the shade cloth. Time to see if this contraption holds water.

Step 5: Splash Pad Testing!

Fill the reservoir and fire up the pump.

Chances are your nozzles are the wrong size. Mine were much too small. (which is good because it's easier to drill bigger holes than shrink them)

Slowly step up the hole size one nozzle at a time to get the spray pattern you want. I was aiming for four streams spraying into the center of the pad.

I plan on duct taping the shade cloth down once everything is finalized.

Step 6: Nozzle Holes in Cover

Trim the sprinkler risers so the nozzles are flush with the top of the pad. Lay the shade cloth centered on the splash deck and fold the corner to reveal the position of the nozzle. Fold the cloth several times and use a lighter or torch to melt a hole about 75% the size of the nozzle.
Push the nozzle through and secure the cloth with a zip tie inside the splash pad.

Step 7: Tape It Up!

tuck the tarp under the splash deck then put the shade cloth on and tuck that in too. Then duct tape the perimeter. I ran out of duct tape and switched to packing tape at the end.

Step 8: Updates and Option S

I added a remote control to the power supply so can activate it remotely. I used a christmas light remote you can find for about 10 bucks.

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