Introduction: Concrete Framed Water Feature With Planter
In this Instructable I will show you how I make a garden water feature using concrete to make the sides of the feature, something like a 2 sided picture frame, with a trough at the bottom and a planter at the top, both planters sandwiched between the concrete frames.
There will be a curtain of Water flowing inside the frame and will also have LED waterproof lighting making for an interesting feature.
The bottom trough will have either a waterproof membrane or a plastic container, this will house the Water pump, I may opt for a Solar pump as it will only be used during the summer months.
The top trough will also have a plastic membrane to stop any contamination from seeping down when the plants are watered.
Concrete and Grit sand pebbles could be added as well.
Pump Or a Solar pump
Waterproof LED Lighting
Pallet wood or scrap wood lengths to make a former for the concrete frames
Cardboard/Hardboard to sit the formers on
Pallet wood or similar to make the troughs/planter
Strong adhesive, similar to no nails or sticks like sh*t in the UK
Shovel to mix the cement
Hot glue gun
3" Wood screws
Acrylic tube with elbows, 15mm copper pipe would do the same job using compression elbows.
A few plants for the planter.
Step 1: Building the Frame Work for the Concrete Former.
Once a size for the feature has been established we can can now using a chop saw or jigsaw/hand saw cut the pieces of scrap timber to make the formers for the concrete to be poured into.
So there will be an outer and inner sections of framework, these outer sections I will make out of some surplus wood I had from making some Garden benches, some of it was twisted and bent, but will be ok for this purpose.
I am making the outer frame with 550mm lengths of the surplus timber, this was cut on the chop saw.
The inner rectangle will be 330mm x 320mm these are just screwed together as in the photos, both formers are then laid on top of a scrap piece of hardboard, I got lucky with the hardboard, I literally just broke it in half with my knee a day or 2 earlier to dispose of it and it worked out perfect for this purpose, I positioned the centre frame and then using Hot Glue just glued the frames to the Hardboard will this be enough to hold in place during the concrete pour and the drying process, we will see, I wanted something easy to remove once the concrete had dried.
Onto the cement process:
Step 2: Mixing the Cement and Pouring Into the Formers.
I had a bag of cement and some grit sand left over from a fence repair job a month earlier and to keep things clean I would just mix the amounts I needed in a wheelbarrow(This was all going to be guesswork) I wet the inside of the wheel barrow first before I shovelled roughy 2/3 shovels full of sand into it, then opening the bag of cement I just used a garden trowel to scoop around 4/6 scoops into the mix.
Adding a little more water I then started mixing, I think the trick is just to add the water sparingly until you have a suitable mix and both components are combined, I went for quite a stiff mix as I didn't want too much seepage, if the mix is too wet, just add more sand, if it doesn't look the right colour add more cement, wing and a prayer at it's best here, no finesse needed , it is going to be a rustic feature.
With the mix ready to pour, I found my trowel, I have a builders trowel but you don't need one, shovel it in, or use your hands with disposable gloves, pat it down with a lump of wood, I did this a few times trying to ensure the mix went into all the corners of the frames, then leave to dry, How long you leave it for depends on the weather I guess, UK here and quite sunny at this time, it should dry overnight hopefully.
Step 3: Securing the 2 Sides of the Frames Together
My first idea was to just have the concrete sides and join them together somehow, but looking at dimensions and such with the planter dimensions, the obvious thing to do was to leave the outer wooden frame intact, this would give us something to work with.
I used some noggings in each corner and screwed these in at 2 positions in each corner, at a distance apart to accommodate the top and bottom planters, then I boxed the top, bottom, and sides in with some 12mm chipboard material I already had.
I mitred a frame around the top planter and secured the planter with some wood screws, the bottom trough will sit in the bottom of the feature and will be removeable to clean out etc, I also cut 2 stand offs for the bottom of the feature.
With everything screwed in place I gave all the wood a couple of coats of Cuprinol fence/shed treatment, I also sprayed the inside of the feature with matt black spray for a more Grotto ish! effect, I would have preferred to do the whole feature out of Bricks and Cement, but that may come at a later date, call this a prototype for now.
Step 4: Fitting the Pump and Fittings Etc
With no plans or anything it's time to get creative, I ordered a small water pump with an LED ring and 3 planters were ordered at the same time, the ones I chose came in packs of 3, it stated in the details that the planters came with 2 drainage holes in the bottom, In the reviews this was not the case, result! these would be perfect for my purpose( There were drain holes, you just have to poke them through, I sealed these holes).
I had a length of fish tank tubing as well so things were taking shape, I will have to design and 3D print a reducer using Fusion 360 for the pipe to fit into the pump and then the tubing will be run up one of the sides of the frame and along a length of 20mm conduit pipe which will be secured underneath the planter, the pipe will have a row of symmetric holes space out at 12mm. Forget the above, this is where I had issues, using the small diameter pipe then feeding it into the conduit, the water would not flow through all of the holes, I tried enlarging the holes etc, nothing worked.
Plan B: I had some 16mm internal diameter Acrylic pipe 18mm overall diameter, my thoughts are to use this directly from the pump, I did a mock up for a test and it worked, I had to design and print 3 elbows, clips, and an end stop using Fusion 360 the clips are to secure the acrylic pipe to the underside of the planter.
Thinking about this and for any future water based garden feature, I would definitely consider using say 15mm copper pipe and compression elbows and end stop, and would have to to make an adapter of some sort from the pump to the copper pipe.
The LED 5v Strip will be secured to the underside of the planter using Hot glue, I did this in Multiple positions to ensure it stayed in place. So with an LED Ring in the reservoir with the pump and also the LED's underneath the planter it should make some nice scenes, especially in the evenings.
Another Plan B.
Another error with this build was that the pump was too powerful for this feature, so I opted for another smaller pump I had, this didn't have the LED ring so we will just have the LED strip which should work fine.
Step 5: So With Hindsight, What Would I Have Done Different.
I think first off, I would have got a builder friend of mine to build a more robust, weatherproof frame, using bricks or blocks for the sides of the feature, so the feature was a complete build on a small foundation.
I used a mains electric pump for the purpose of this test, here in the UK its 230v Water and Electricity is not a good mix at any time, and if anything would have gone wrong, I would have been doing an impression of the first astronaut on the sun:))
A solar pump is the way forward in these cases I think.
At the end of the day the principle worked, a couple of minor issues were overcome and I ended up with a nice Garden Water Feature, the contrast in the evening is not really picked up on the video, but the colours were amazing, very vivid, especially with the foliage in the background, and using the remote some different scenes could be created.
We once had a small pond in the garden with a fountain, it was nice to hear the sound of running water again.
As always I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and thanks for looking.
Participated in the
Stone, Concrete, Cement Challenge