Garden From Scratch




Introduction: Garden From Scratch

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For this project we built a fountain, planted a garden, and constructed a fence - simply a way to enhance a small backyard, but keep it safe from roaming pets! Make sure to check out our blog for detailed instructions and other great projects!

You'll need:
  • Pump
  • PVC pipe
  • Shower Curtain
  • Pond Rocks
  • 2×4′s
  • Wood Sheet
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Cement
  • Plants
  • Mulch

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Step 1: Where?

Dig a hole for your fountain and pond area.

Step 2: Station Your Pump

The way most pond pumps work is that the water simply falls into them - they are made to push water through the tube and out the top, not pull water in. Gravity has to be on your side. We dug a hole in the center of our hole to bury the pump. You’ll notice the PVC pipe with holes in it’s siding – this is how we got the water to enter our pump. It is screwed onto the top of the pump and we drilled the holes to allow water to sift into it without taking debris with it. For this phase, we left the PVC in place.

Step 3: Lay the Pond Form

A shower curtain is an incredibly cheap alternative to the expensive pond shapes you can buy at hardware stores. We simply laid it out over the hole and pump. For this step we removed the PVC stem.

Step 4: Cut Away the Barrier

Once the shower curtain was laid out, we squeezed the PVC stem back into place with the curtain layer caught between then cut away the blocking barrier. This left a water tight seal around the edges of the pump to keep the pond from leaking into the ground around it.

Once you're done cutting away the curtain barrier, put your PVC pipe back together.

Step 5: Get Rid of the Excess

Cut away the excess shower curtain along the edge.

Step 6: Lay Out the Edging

If you're really ambitious you can collect pebbles and river rocks on your own - we however, bought a couple bags of $3 pond pebbles from the local hardware store.

Step 7: To Build Your Frame ....

To construct the actual fountin you'll need a supply collection similar to these wood pieces.

Step 8: Build the Fountain Frame

Fashion them into a rectangular frame in which to pour your concrete. We used the taller pieces of wood to hold the concrete and the pieces of 2x4 are simply to hold in place the rest of our frame.  

Step 9: Make a Divit for the Upper Pool

We then created a strange little piece to put at the top side of our fountain. This was designed to leave a lip where water could pool as soon as it bubbled up through the tube and breach the edge evenly along the top of the fountain. The wood slides are easily removed once the concrete is hardened, this is just a good way to shape it for functionality.

Then we attached it to the rest of the frame.

Step 10: Stretch the Tubing Through

Once all of this is in place, run the tube. This ensures that as the concrete hardens the tube is built in place.

Step 11: Pour the Cement

With all these stages completed we were ready to mix and pour the concrete. We used two bags… which got really heavy! If you choose to recreate this, do not lift it on your own.

Step 12: Position Your Aesthetics

We positioned left over pond pebbles in the cement so water could trickle down the rockface. You could easily create some sort of elaborate design out of any other weather proof items though.

Step 13: Put in Place

We allowed it plenty of time to harden. If you try to secure it in place before this process has completed, your corners will snap. We simply popped the frame apart and lifted the slab to it’s rightful position. We poured sand beneath the concrete- 1. it helped level the water feature and 2. it prevents the corners from tearing the shower curtain and creating leaks.

Step 14: Do the Gardening

Now, onto the gardening! We selected a few key veggies to plant and laid out their space in our garden.

Once all of the plants had homes, we laid mulch. The mulch holds water in the soil longer and protects against the evaporation process – your wallet will thank you for the help on your water bill. Plus, it looks pretty!

Step 15: Almost There!

Our almost finished product!

Step 16: Done

After finishing our garden we wanted to protect it from wandering pests ….. and pets. We built this very simple picket fence. The posts are simply sitting in place, it’s more of a cage than a fence and we just spray painted it white. It’s three sided and can be easily moved in and out of place.

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    9 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 16

    To make the fence a more permanent feature (i.e. to avoid replacing it the summer after next) I suggest digging a hole for each fence post about twice as big around as the post itself and about a third as long, and filling it half full with concrete then insert the post and fill concrete around it. Make sure it's plumb and true before the concrete hardens.

    This additional step will help prevent rapid deterioration by wood-hungry bugs as well as water damage.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You shouldn't set the post on top of concrete in the hole as it will accelerate decay. use gravel(tamped) on the bottom and concrete around the post. That way any water that makes it to the bottom of the post can drain away.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This is very true!

    However, with a small garden like this there is little room left to maneuver. When pruning the various herbs you want to have some access to the bed that does not require walking through the mulch.

    For this reason we chose to build a fence that would keep pets out of the garden, but that could easily be pulled away leaving wide open access to work from.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    ive got a couple of removable fence posts so i can get my car in the back yard, I basically dug a hole about 10 inchs wide, 10 inchs deep, but i covered the end of my 4x4 with saran wrap, stuck it in the hole and filled with concrete, every so often during drying i wiggled it a bit. after the concrete hardend i could pull the post in and out with about a 1/4 gap.. it keeps it sturdy yet removable.


    7 years ago on Step 11

    If you are willing to make your own concrete mix (instead of using the "quick" variety) you can make a hypertufa mix which weighs about half the amount of regular concrete.

    Basically, hypertufa substitutes some of the aggregate and/or sand (depending on which recipe you use) with vermiculite. Google "hypertufa" for specific recipes.


    7 years ago on Step 13

    There seems to be some ambiguity here in step 13 with the positioning of the slab and connecting it to the pump. Can you elaborate?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely! If you look back to step 10 you'll see where we ran the tube through the framed space before filling the slab. What you just brought to our attention is what you can't see in the photo. There is actually a lot of leftover, wound-up tubing which will run from the top of the concrete where the water pools and will stretch down to the pump.

    With the tubing properly in place it's just a matter of connecting that tube to the proper spicket which will send water to the top of the fountain.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Please note, I am new to this site and did not realize my comments would appear at the beginning of the article as well as under the steps in which I made them.

    The hypertufa comment was intended to reference steps 11 & 12, creating the rock slab for the fountain, not the fence post holes in step 16.