Build an Industrial Water Feature

Follow these steps to add an industrial chic water feature to your landscape.

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo By: Lilypons Water Gardens

Modern Water Feature

A water feature is a great way to add value to your yard, while improving your outdoor experience with beautiful plants and the sound of trickling water. This water feature has a modern, industrial twist with the addition of an elevated galvanized bucket.

You Will Need

preformed pond liner or large black plastic bin from home improvement center (we used one from the concrete supplies section that was less than $15) / a level / play sand / one 3/4-inch x 10-inch galvanized pipe / one 3/4-inch x 6-inch galvanized pipe / one 3/4-inch galvanized connector / one 3/4-inch galvanized T / one 3/4-inch galvanized floor flange / one 3/4-inch close nipple / wood screws / galvanized bucket / drill and 1 1/8-inch drill bit / pliers (optional) / concrete / rebar / painter's tape / 6-inch x 12-inch pressure-treated lumber / fountain pump / pump tubing / scissors or utility knife / spraying fountain head / water-tolerant plant or aquatic pond plant (we used horsetail grass) / grassy plants / other low-growing plants for contrast / soil / rocks for landscaping the pond (we used flagstone)

Plan Out Your Water Feature

Draw out your general design, without worrying too much about your artistic ability. The drawing is for your eyes only and simply used to help you determine the general layout and to plan purchases. Next, list the items you will need and make sure they fit within your budget. If you want your water feature to be seen, make sure to place it in a prominent place where it stands out among nearby landscaping. You may also consider setting it apart somehow by outlining it with landscaping stones or building a path that leads to it. Remember that water is often tempting to small children, so make sure they are always supervised when playing near your water feature. Also make sure your water feature is fenced-in and not accessible to passerby and curious children who might want to explore unsupervised.

Choosing a Pump

There are a variety of pumps available. Choose one that will pump enough water for your project. For a small water area, a 120-gallon-per-hour pump should be sufficient. Consider one with spraying attachments included or easily attainable.

Choosing Rocks and Stones

The rocks are an important part of this design and critical around the pond edge to disguise the top of the black basin. We chose flagstone to cover the edge, but you could use a different variety. Have enough on hand and incorporate the rocks or stone into the surrounding landscaping to add a natural element.

Choosing Plants

We chose grassy plants intentionally to play up the rebar and solidify the design idea. Choose plants that are to your liking. Many who make water features like the idea of including flowering water plants. There are some wonderful varieties to choose from, but remember that incorporating aquatic plants into the pond may require you to clean it more often.

Prepare the Area

After you’ve chosen your spot, be sure it is safe to dig. Not only will you have to dig the spot where the basin will lay, but you will need a trench to hide the power cord. If possible, plan your water feature near a patio or deck so an outlet will be nearby. This will also allow the relaxing sound of the water feature to be heard from places you will most likely be.

Create an Outline

When you are ready to dig, turn the basin upside down and place it in the desired spot. Mark the outline with a hose, rope, powdered chalk or flour.

Start Digging

Remove the basin and dig the spot deep enough for the basin to sit comfortably. It should be the depth of your basin or preformed pond, plus just a bit more. Don’t worry if it is a touch too deep—you’ll fill in any gaps with the displaced soil. Be sure to keep it as level as possible.

Make Sure It's Level

Turn the basin or preformed pond into the hole and check that it is level.

Add Play Sand

Determine where adjustments are necessary, remove basin and apply a layer of play sand.

Make Adjustments and Fill In

Add additional sand where the adjustments are needed and level the surface. Re-install the basin or preformed pond and check for levelness again. Make any additional adjustments with sand as necessary. Fill in any gaps with displaced soil and pack tightly.

Make the Bucket Fountain

Drill a hole in the bottom of the galvanized bucket with a 1 1/8-inch drill bit (ours is slightly off center to accommodate the plant container we used). If it tears up the bottom a bit, just break off the ragged pieces with a pair of pliers.

Attach the Pipe

Attach the 6-inch pipe to the 10-inch pipe using the connector. Insert the pipe into hole with the 10-inch pipe and connector on the outside of the bucket.

Secure With Duct Tape

Use duct tape (you’ll remove it later) to secure the connector firmly to the bottom of the bucket.

Create a Stand

Place the bucket and pipe on something that will allow the pipe to hang freely and the bucket to be level.

Mix Concrete

Mix up enough concrete to fill about 3 inches in the bottom of the bucket.

Add Concrete to Bucket

Add the concrete to the bucket and insert rebar into the concrete at varying heights and angles.

Secure Rebar

Use painter’s tape to secure them in place while the concrete hardens. When the concrete has hardened, remove the painter’s tape and the duct tape.

Create a Base for the Bucket

Attach the floor flange to the piece of wood using wood screws.

Creating the Base

Insert the close nipple into the floor flange.

Insert Pump Tubing

Insert flexible pump tubing into the side hole of the galvanized T and through one of the other openings. 

Adding the Tubing

The tubing should be approximately 18 inches long plus the length needed from the fountain to the pump. Continue feeding the tubing through the pipe in the galvanized bucket until it comes out of the top of the 6-inch pipe.

Attach the Base to the Bucket

Screw the galvanized T onto the bottom of the 10-inch pipe and then connect the other end of the T to the close nipple and floor flange.

Fill the Basin and Test

Fill the basin with water and submerge the fountain base. Place a couple of heavy rocks on the wood base for stability. Connect the flexible tubing to the pump and submerge the pump. Add the spraying fountain head to the tubing inside the bucket. Fill the bucket with water and test the pump to be sure that it works.

Finishing Touches

The addition of rocks gives your water feature a more natural look. Use them to add height in areas that need it and to disguise the edge of your basin or preformed pond liner. Cover the entire area with top soil. Fill in and gently pack where necessary. Fill in the trench, burying the power cord.

Landscape the Area

This is where things get interesting. How you design and decorate your water feature area is a personal choice, of course. To create this look, we have taken a more industrial and sculptural approach.  Place the water plant you have chosen into the bucket (if using horsetail grass, leave the plant in its container). Add plants around the water area. Use mounds of soil of varying heights to create interest. Choose a couple varieties of plant life that contrast in terms of texture, shape and size. Remember that water is often tempting to small children, so make sure they are always supervised when playing near your water feature. Also make sure your water feature is fenced-in and not accessible to passerby and curious children who might want to explore unsupervised.

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