Building a Pond-less Fountain

Building a Pond-less Fountain

Building your own pond-less water feature is incredibly easy and a one day project you’ll have fun with.

Except for self-contained fountain pots that have a built in reservoir, a  pondless water features must have some kind of reservoir to contain the spillover and also the pump. Some designs involve digging out a freeform reservoir and lining it with EPDM pond liner. These systems are good for larger features involving bigger stone. This design is used also when stream beds are incorporated into the water feature.

For smaller water features a pre-formed water reservoir basin will serve the  purpose of containing the water that will circulate through your system and house your pump   When choosing your basin, you’ll want to be sure that the one you pick is strong enough to hold the weight of your vessel, and the rocks you’ll use to hide it. A large ceramic urn can weigh 50-150 lbs or more on it’s own. You must add the weight of the  water that will fill it.  Water weighs a little less than 8 lbs per gallon.

To calculate how much water your urn will hold, Take a 5 gallon bucket and time how long it takes to fill it with the hose, then time filling your container

Properly installing your reservoir is the key to a successful project.  The fountain basin has to be large enough to capture the overflow from the pot,  so that the pump can return it to the vessel.  If it’s

Fountain Reservoir

Fountain Reservoir

too small, water hitting the stones below the basin will splash out and cause the the reservoir to lose water.  This will result in having to fill the basin more often than you should have too.

Installing the the reservoir in the ground isn’t hard except for the digging part. Level is extremely important.  Dig the hole slightly larger than the dimensions of the basin and use a level to be sure bottom and top is level in all directions. Concrete screenings or sand can be used as a base if your soil is not cooperating or is too rocky/rooty.  When the basin is secure and level, back fill firmly, and add some water for weight and to be sure the level hasn’t shifted. Water is always level so if you’ve got an inch from the top of basin  on one side and you’re overflowing on the other… well you get the picture… Your basin isn’t  level!  Once all seems right, go ahead and put your put you pump inside, plug it in and check for operation.

Here are a few fountain reservoir-basin choices

The “Easy Pro” fountain reservoir is a good bet for smaller fountains. Measuring 21″X28″X10″ deep it’s a good size for pots up to 3 foot high that don’t create a lot of splash when overflowing. It will also work for  stacked rock fountains, has plenty of room and easy access to the pump. A center post helps support the weight of the vessel, the water in the vessel and the rock covering. We’ve sourced the Easy Pro Fountain basin at Amazon as one of the best buys around at only $122 bucks and free shipping.  This basin has great reviews on Amazon too.  Check them out.

Another less expensive, is the basin made by Aquascape design. It holds less water ( 7 gallons) but the design is clever in that it has an apron type top so the actual reservoir is smaller.  You can view it here

An even less expensive basin that has great reviews is this Laguna model:Laguna Decorative Water Features Reservoir, 8-Gallon
Right now it’s under 30 bucks with free shipping and has decent reviews too.


About Fountain Pumps

400 GPH Becket Pump

400 GPH Becket Pump

Sizing the fountain Pump

When figuring what size pump you need for your water feature, the key factor is the height distance from the pump to the top of the fountain. Pots, drilled stones etc vary in height which is an important consideration when sizing a pump. Each pump has a maximum vertical distance that it can lift, referred to as “head” or “lift.” At that maximum, you will have very little flow.  You want to choose a pump with a head rating that exceeds the height of your vessel.

Most fountain and statuary pumps are sized in Gallons Per Hour or GPH.  The GPH rating will be the amount the pump can pump based on minimum height. Notice this pump chart.  This chart is for a Becket 325 GPH fountain pump. Note that at 4 feet, you’ll probably have an adequate amount of flow for a 3 foot high urn.  but at 10 feet you’ll have less than half of your starting pump capacity. At 12 feet you will have no flow whatsoever.

pump chart

When plumbing your pump and your vessel, it is always a good practice to use the largest size pipe that the pump will accommodate. You want the maximum output, and can always throttle your flow with a valve, should it be too excessive.   Using 3/4 inch pipe to plumb your vessel is always advisable as it is stronger than 1/2inch pipe.  You can easily step it down to the pump max size if necessary between the vessel and the pump.


We have sourced many water feature pumps for you in our store. You can explore other pump options, reviews and accessories right here
Free shipping for any order over $35.00.  Just FYI, we do get a commission if you purchase your Amazon products that we sourced for you. pay the exact same price at Amazon. 🙂 Thanks in advance for letting us help you find the right products!

Some pots urns etc are made as fountains and may have convenient plumbing connections ready to hook up to your pump.  But, if you are creating your water feature from a pot not designed to be a water feature, you’ll have some plumbing to do.  You’ll want to have some products on hand for plumbing the vessel: Tubing of the correct size for your pump, some rigid PVC pipe for plumbing the actual vessel, pvc male adaptors and female of the proper pipe size, PVC glue, silicone or pool epoxy. If your pot has a drain hole, using it is a natural to run your plumbing through. Seal it after plumbing with silicone or pool epoxy to keep your water from running back out the bottom. You should use flexible tubing from your pump to your fountain and other accessories like fountain heads.

A tip: Always connect your plumbing to the vessel first and the pump last.

Using PVC rigid risers will allow for a little more action at the top, keep your stream centered, and keep most water in the reservoir when the pump is off.

Once your plumbing is complete, set your vessel on top of your reservoir, connect the vessel plumbing to the tubing from the pump and plug in the pump.  Check to see you have the flow rate you desire and throttle your pump if necessary.  Watch your splash pattern on top of reservoir. Any water splashing outside you reservoir zone is water lost and you’ll have fill your reservoir more often.  Once you are happy with your overflow, it’s time to decorate! Add the rocks and pebbles to completely cover the reservoir area. Set your water loving plants around the perimeter and set back to enjoy your new water feature!

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