DIY

I Made A Solar Fountain (For $30)

I am literally bouncing up and down in my chair right now because I’m scrolling through the list of half-finished post drafts sitting on my WordPress dashboard, and I cannot wait to show you all the cool stuff I’ve been up to lately. In the past three weeks, I have redone the exterior of my entire house. I have made over my kitchen. I have planted all the plants, have learned how to do something called a German Smear (omg just wait until you see it), and have identified the cutest and least crazily priced drawer pulls a person can find. And, oh yes:

I HAVE CREATED A FOUNTAIN.

FROM SCRATCH.

To give you some context for my all-caps excitement: I have wanted a fountain in our backyard since the moment we moved in. I had one at my house in Los Angeles, and it was honestly the most atmospheric thing ever; somehow, just the sound of it made the place feel like one big tropical vacation. (Ok, the fact that I was unemployed like 75% of the time and drinking Coronas at 10:30AM may have contributed to the vacation feel. Let’s not split hairs.) Every so often I’ll wander around the garden department at Lowe’s looking at fountains…and then realize that I’m not especially crazy about any of the options. Also, I’m not entirely sure where the water hookup in the backyard is. Or if we even have one. And besides, fountains can be expensive little energy-suckers.

Then my friend Erin (have you noticed that the friends I’ve made since I moved out here are the craftiest people who have ever existed? I certainly have) sent me a photo of the water fountain that she made for her backyard, and I freaked out, because how does a non-engineering-degree-having person even do something like that?! And then she told me that really all you need (besides stuff you probably already own, or can pick up anywhere) is a $15 gadget you can order off of Amazon.

Oh.

Ordering a $15 gadget off of Amazon is totally a thing I can do. So?

Fountain: made.

how to make your own solar water fountain for your backyard

In case infographics aren’t your thing, here’s what you’re going to need to make your very own super-impressive backyard solar water fountain:

  • 1 large ceramic planter (with drainage holes)
  • 1 smaller bucket or planter (with no drainage holes) that fits inside the large one with space around the edges
  • Potting soil
  • 8-10 small plants that do well in full sunlight
  • solar fountain pump
  • A handful or two of black mulch (totally optional)

And here’s how you make it:

First, fill the planter with potting soil, leaving space in the middle for your smaller bucket.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

As you can sort of see, I tucked a few river rocks into the bottom so I didn’t have to use tons and tons of potting soil.

Now snuggle your bucket down into the soil, making sure that the lip of the bucket is the same level as the lip of the planter.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

So cozy.

In the space between the edge of the bucket and the edge of the planter, add your plants. (Kids can obviously help with this entire project; it’s super fun and totally small person-friendly.)

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

If you want, you can tuck some black mulch in around the edges of the plants to make the whole thing look a little neater.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

Now, the next step is one you won’t need to do if you’re careful to pick up a bucket without holes in the bottom. I tried to be careful about this and bought a bucket with optional punch-out holes…and then failed to realize that someone had chosen the option to punch out the holes already. So I decided to fill them with a mix of mortar powder and water (because I happened to have mortar powder laying around; duct tape would probably work just as well with much less fuss).

mixing mortar and water to make cement

(Clearly I took the opportunity to do an extremely poor job at carving our initials into the cement.)

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

…Aww?

Then just fill the bucket with water…

pouring water from a jug into a fountain

Or fill it using your hose if you’d like to be all efficient about it.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

Then place the solar pump on top.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

…And once the sun comes out?

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

Fountain.

how to make your own backyard solar water fountain

FOUNTAIN.

Pros:

  • Beautiful
  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • Solar!
  • No need for a water hookup

Cons:

  • The pump really only works well when it’s very sunny out – if it’s cloudy but bright, the fountain sort of stops and starts. And there’s no way to make it work at night, obviously.
  • If the container you choose isn’t big enough, some (or a lot) of the water may spout out over the edges. So either get a pretty big container, or be prepared to refill it fairly frequently.
  • Even at full-blast, the fountain isn’t quite as forceful as I’d like; I can barely hear it if I’m not within a couple of feet. I think if my outdoor space were a little smaller or more contained, it’d be perfect, though.

I’m ok with those cons. Because I have a fountain. That I made myself. For thirty dollars.

  • Jen

    Jordan, I love this idea! I live in an apartment but I’m thinking it could work for my balcony if I get a smaller pot. It’s a sunny spot. Thanks!

  • Kim

    Love posts like these, thanks!