Updated Oct 7, 2022
There’s nothing more relaxing and satisfying than the sound of bubbling water in your backyard or garden. Fountains are one of the best ways to add a serene and calming effect to your favorite backyard lounging area. Unfortunately, commercial or store-bought water fountains can be costly and difficult to install. A practical and low-cost solution to this problem is DIY garden fountains. Popular on social media and online design boards, there are dozens of unique and creative fountains. To help narrow down the list, we’ve compiled an assortment of our absolute favorite water fountain ideas.
The technical and original name of this style of fountain is sōzu. Sōzu is a type of Shishi-odoshi (a term translating to deer-frightening), a device designed to scare away wild animals. These fountains function by having a bamboo tube fill up with water, and as it does so, it tilts on its center axis, pouring out the water once full. It swings back down when the tube empties, impacting the stone base, making a satisfying “thump.” These bamboo water features are quick, easy, and enjoyable to make at home.
Watering can fountains create a clever trick of the eye by giving the appearance of a floating watering can. In reality, the can is held aloft by a sturdy, clear section of piping that pumps water up into the can through its nozzle. Cheap, easy to make, and undeniably clever, this simple fountain is many DIY enthusiasts’ first at-home fountains. This fountain only requires a basin, pump, watering can, gravel or river rocks, and clear plastic piping. This fountain is prevalent enough that major retailers have hopped on board, resulting in store-bought variations easily found online. One popular variation is a tiered fountain, in which one watering can pours into another, descending downward until they pour directly into a small plant or the water basin.
Resembling something you might see in a speakeasy or warehouse, this fun take on an old wine barrel lets you create a miniature bubbling pond. You can create a wonderful little fountain by slicing a barrel clean in two and positioning a tiny pump and sprayer inside. If you purchase a decorative or adequately sanitized and deodorized barrel, you can place some small water plants to add an elegant touch of foliage. Some guides online recommend putting fish or other pond-loving wildlife in these, but we strongly discourage this. Wine barrels are treated with cleansers, sealants, and other chemicals. Even if a wine barrel has been cleaned and deodorized, these chemicals can leach from the wood into the water, harming or even killing the fish. Some DIY gurus have even taken the other half of the barrel, cut off the front section, and placed it on the fountain’s base. This placement creates an attractive two-tier fountain where the water trickles down from the top tier into the basin below.
This fountain is the easiest to create on this list. Take a pump, and place it in the bottom of an ornamental or terracotta pot. Fill with loose stones while feeding the pump’s output pipe to the top. Once complete, you will have a simple, beautiful, bubbling fountain filled with multicolored stones. It is also low cost, needing only a single pot, about one to two dozen decent-sized rocks, and a low-tier water pump. Some homeowners even create many of these fountains, using them as accent pieces highlighting areas of their backyards, or positioning them in a row to make a small wall of fountains.
This aesthetically pleasing fountain resembles a waterfall combined with a privacy screen. Tall, modern, and sleek, this DIY project makes a great focal point or accent piece. By utilizing a sturdy frame, a moderately powerful pump, and a piece of semi-clear plastic paneling, you can create an impressive wall fountain. Of all the entries on this list, this fountain is the most time-consuming and involved, but you cannot argue with the results. There are also several variations of this fountain, some with a standing wall of rocks, others with just the frame and free-falling water. Whichever variation you choose, you won’t regret this impressive outdoor water wall. One of our favorite versions of this fountain added a series of outdoor, waterproof lights to the back of the wall. These lights, when turned on, create a scintillating array of colors as the beams hit the water.
These fountains are multifaceted features for your backyard and garden. You can have a quick and easy at-home pond by combining a pond liner, some sand, a low-cost pump, and some elbow grease to dig the hole. These pond fountains can be unique centerpieces, but you can take them to the next level by adding some water-dwelling plants. Some great options for smaller ponds like these are fairy moss or water poppy. Keep in mind that you should aim for plants with smaller, less intrusive root structures. Many online guides and tutorials like to add water lilies to these kinds of fountains, but we recommend against this. Water lilies need larger ponds and do not react well to fast-moving water, they might look pretty for a time, but they won’t do well in small fountains like these.
This striking fountain combines the power of raw ingenuity and the efficiency of recycling to create a beautiful backyard DIY water feature. You can assemble an impressive waterfall effect by combining an old plastic storage container, bathtub, or pond liner, with a suitable PVC or copper pipe. The tub goes into the ground at the base of a wall, such as a stone retaining wall or wooden divider. The pipe sits on the wall directly above the tub, with multiple holes punched into it. Once the water begins to flow, the holes allow it to stream from the pipe onto the wall and into the tub. This impressive, relatively simple fountain is an effective way to have an at-home waterfall. What’s even better about this fountain is that it can be constructed almost entirely from recycled materials, with the exception of the pump.
This DIY water fountain uses a waterproof tub, copper piping, and a few stacking rocks to create a trickling tower of stones. There are two ways to make this fountain. For both, you will need the same materials: small flat rocks, pebbles, a pump, copper piping, some composite decking, a basin, and gravel. As one of the more complex fountains, this one requires some know-how and setup, but the results are well worth the effort. The general design goes like this:
This fountain boasts an impressive vintage flair while finding a use for your empty wine bottles. You can create this unique bubbling structure by combining a pump, half a barrel, a pot, and some bottles. Drill some small holes into the pot’s base and place it within the half barrel. Then, insert the pump into the pot, snaking the pipe upwards. Use a pipe connector to add up to three additional pipes. Next, drill a small hole in the backs of the bottles and attach them to the pipes, then, finally, fill the pot with gravel. The water will cascade from the bottles, into the barrel, and back through to the pump. Simple, easy to make, and fun to watch, this bubbler is one of our favorites.
Do you have an old fire pit or dried-up pond just sitting around collecting moss? Well, this little aesthetic fountain may be your solution. This DIY project only requires a pump, a decent-sized hole in the ground, a liner, and many fist-sized rocks. You will first need to place the liner into the hole. You have a few options here, and you can either go with a plastic tarp or a solid plastic basin. If you’re going with a tarp, you’ll need to stake it into the hole’s walls or along the top. If you’re going with a solid basin, grab one as close to the shape of the hole as possible. Insert it into the hole, then fill the remaining space with dirt or sand. Then place the pump in the center of the liner, and surround it with rocks while positioning the pump’s output pipe straight up. The stones should pile up to be flush with the ground’s surface, with the pipe resting dead center. Once you flip the power on, water will begin bursting out of the top of the pipe like a geyser. If you want to have more control of the flow and power of the geyser, you can attach a control valve to the base of the pipe.
Do you want to add some Victorian flair to your garden? If so, this lovely outdoor fountain is just for you. It requires a basin, a pump, piping, rocks, and an old tea set. Bury the basin in the ground, and place the pump inside with the output pipe pointed straight up. Fill the basin with some heavy, solid stones to ground height. Attach an old teapot to the top of the output pipe at an angle. Finally, attach some teacups to saucers, placing them atop additional pipes. Insert the first teacup beneath the teapot so that the stream of water enters the teacup from the teapot. Then place the other teacups beneath the first one. As the water stream hits the first teacup, water will trickle from that teacup into the others, creating a lovely little cascade. For extra flair, you can also plant a vining plant like an ivy at the base of the poles. The ivy will then snake up the piping, creating an extra faerie-like scene with this teapot fountain.
This solar fountain takes the term “going green” to new levels. Look no further if you want an all-green, solar-powered water flower featuring a fountain. You will need:
Place your choice of water plants (we recommend plants like taro, water lettuce, and red star ludwigia) into the plastic pots with soil, topping with gravel. Insert the plastic pots into the wash pan along with the pump, and then fill with water. The water should come just above the tops of the plastic pots. Set up the solar panel in a location where it will get lots of sunlight and watch your plants thrive.
Water features, such as fountains, water gardens, or backyard ponds, are a great way to enjoy your outdoor space. Fountains can bring a level of relaxation and peaceful calm through their soothing sound of water. While store-bought fountains can be expensive and difficult to install, many DIY fountains on this list will save you time and money. If created and appropriately installed, many fountains can even increase your home’s curb appeal. Larger fountains like the retaining wall fountain can come off as particularly impressive. Each offers its own unique addition to your backyard space, from the quirky liquor bottle fountain to the plant housing the mini pond fountain.