I have long been an instructable reader, first time 'ible writer so with a new project, I figured my time had come!
We bought our house late last year and a previous owner had added a large deck in the garden. Whilst this is great place for us to entertain, play with our daughter and generally unwind from the usual niggles in life, it had been left, uncared for for some time.
A general clean, some paint and a few plants certainly helped but it has an awkward shaded corner, against the house and a fence, that has proven difficult to bring life to.
I am a firm believer that every garden should incorporate water. Aside from the focal point it creates, it adds movement, sound and life and so I decided to create something for this difficult space.
There are numerous preformed kits available on the market that I initially considered. They all had commonalities though....
a. they were expensive; often several hundreds of pounds
b. they were the wrong size and shape for my requirements.
I had to build something, and here is how I did it.........
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
All tools used are pretty standard, mainly electric although can be substituted for hand tools as required...
a. Mitre saw
b. Cordless drill with approprite screw bits
c. 6mm wood drill
d. Spirit level
e. Tape measure
f. Set square
g. Soldering iron
h. 10mm masonary bit
All materials are easily obtained from your local DIY centre and eBay....
a. Water container; I used a plastic 42ltr storage box with clip on lid
b. 12v submerible pump; ebay
c. Wooden fence posts or joists
d. Timber; I used pallets
e. 100mm and 50mm screws
g. 10w 240v to 12v constant voltage transformer
h. Assorted bits of brackets I had lay around
Step 2: The Stone
I found this stone in a neighbours garden whilst helping them clear an overgrown area. He had no use for it and so I was given it.
It measures approximately 300mm (12") square at the base, stands around 600mm (24") and must weigh at least 60kg (130lb). It is also a local sandstone and has a reasonably flat base so stands up nicely.
My original plan was to drill right through it with masonary bit but I settled on drilling down from a naturally cupped area by around 200mm (8") and then drilling perpendicular to intercept the hole using an 8mm bit.
I then bonded in some 8mm o/d plastic pipe and made good the seal with silicone sealant. In retrospect I should have used clear sealant but it is hidden from view so of no great concern.
I also drilled an additional hole in the rear face to allow me to add a support point. Whilst the stone is pretty stable on its own, I have an inquisative 2 year old daughter....need I say more?!
Step 3: The Frame
I decided to use wooden fence posts as the main frame material as I had some offcuts available from installing a new fence and I was also able to broker a deal at my local fence suppliers who had several offcuts lay around. As such it cost me around £10 in materials.
I used the fence posts to create a basic frame as can be seen in the first picture. I then covered the top in the pallet boards creating a much heavier frame than I guess is really required. I also used a fence post to act as an anchor between the previously drilled hole in the stone, and the frame.
As can be seen in the first picture the lower legs are not at the ends of the frame. This is due to a drain being at this point and I wanted to maintain easy access to this should I need it.
All of the framing was completed using 100mm screws, recessed slightly. Two pilot holes and two screws were installed at each joint.
The top boards were held down with 50mm screws and the stone anchor brace held in place with two more 100mm screws.
I added a retaining batten along the fence side to stop the slate pieces falling down the side.
The last element was to cut feather edge board, left over from installing my new fence, into 250mm (10in) lengths and installed them along the front face, securing them into place with more 50mm screws. The screws allow for easy access and I like to check the water levels periodically to ensure no leaks etc.
Step 4: The Plumbing
This is probably the most straightforward step.
There are two basic types of garden pump; submersible and non-submersible. I chose to go for a 12v submersible pump as there is no priming required. For me, this was an important consideration as Im not planning to run the pump constantly, only when we are outside enjoying the british summer.
For the container, Im using a 42ltr storage box into which I have placed a column of bricks to support the weight of the stone on top. In the lid I have drilled several 6mm and 10mm holes to allow the water to circulate back into the reservoir. Two additional holes allow the plastic tube which feeds the stone and the power supply wire to pass through.
The idea is that the lid takes as little weight as possible, just a few handfuls of the crushed slate scattered on top, so ensure the stone is well supported and stable.
Step 5: The Electrics
Firstly, the customary disclaimer.....
Please ensure you are confident dealing with electrics. If in doubt, please use a profressional and ensure all of your local laws are observed. Electricity and water dont play well together, exercise caution and double check everything.
With that out of the way we can start to figure out what our requirements are. I decided that I would have my power source from the the garage around 12 metres away and I wanted everything outside to be 12v. This gives me peace of mind that should I accidently put a spade through the wire, life would continue as I have become accustomed to.
I also decided to use a pond rated rubberised cable, capable of 240v should my requirements change in the future. I have largely been able to hide this under the deck although there is a section that is buried under the grass and a small border. The cable should be buried s deeply as possible to avoid any accidental damage. I used a 10mm masonary drill to to bring the cable into the garage and sealed around it with exterior grade clear silicon sealant.
Next we need to work out what transformer is needed.
The data sheet that came with my 12v pump said that it had a draw of 0.66 amps. Using basic formulae we can easily figure out the wattage, since;
Watts = Volts x Amps
Therefore, in my case, 12 x 0.66 = 7.92 watts
With this in mind I selected a 10w constant voltage transformer. This should provide enough power even over a reasonably long run (in 12v terms)
I was a little concerned about voltage drop but this was measured to be minimal in part due to a cable diameter of 1.5mm.
Where my cable connects to the pump cable I have soldered the connection and protected in using heatshrink sleeving.
Step 6: Finishing
With the frame completed and positioned, we can locate the water container, the stone and finalise the wiring.
I then used crushed slate around the stone to hide the frame and some large river stones to an extra texture.
A little paint along the feather edge and we're done!
Im hoping that over the next few months the stone will weather nicely and start to grow moss to soften it up a bit.
Now to sit back and enjoy!
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