Create a Pondless Fountain
by Jesse Khong,
Pondless fountains are not only low maintenance, but also ideal for shady locations where the need of sunlight is not crucial as there are no fish or aquatic plants. This type of fountain is also hard for mosquitos to establish a breeding ground as there is no open water surface. In this article, I will demonstrate how to create a pondless fountain using easy to find and affordable materials.
A large plastic mixing tub
A small pump with plastic tubing sold for tabletop and container fountains (clear plastic tubing is usually sold separately)
Some metal hardware net
A few building bricks
Rocks & river stones for decoration (choose different sizes & shapes for a more natural look)
Some recycled papers (shredded or torn)
An aluminum box level or something similar
1 ½” (4cm) & 1” (2.5cm) bamboo poles (you can obtain any pre-made bamboo fountain or just get very creative as the possibilities are endless)
A standard hacksaw for cutting the bamboo poles
An electric drill
2 lids from household plastic containers (optional)
How to Create the Bamboo Piece:
1. Use a standard hacksaw to cut the tip of the large bamboo pole at a 45° angle (only use hacksaw for cutting as the small blades will not split the pole or ravage the edge).
2. Use a screwdriver or something longer if necessary to knock out the nodal dams (the thin layer located at the node area inside the bamboo pole). This will allow you to thread the tubing through the inside of the bamboo pole. You can also do the same for the larger pole if it is necessary for the water to run through inside the pole.
3. Drill a small hole on the larger bamboo pole (determine the hole size based upon the tubing size). Before drilling the hole, use a few layers of masking tape to mark the drilling location and drill through the tape. This will prevent the bamboo from splitting.
(Please note that I used the base of my lemon tree to hold the bamboo structure up and then anchored the end of the bamboo pole with a big stone. You might need to build some sort of support system for your bamboo fountain).
How to Install the Fountain:
Select a flat location and decide whether or not you need to water this area deeply in order to make it easier for digging. The soil in my area is mostly clay, so I had to water the selected area the night before to help loosen up the dense and dried out soil. Mark the outline of the plastic mixing tub, and dig at least 2” (5cm) larger around the outline and 1” (2.5cm) deeper than the depth of the tub. At this point, you can line the bottom of the hole with a 1” (2.5cm) layer of shredded paper. This makes it easier to adjust your tub for leveling. You can also use sand instead of paper.
Place the tub inside the hole and use a level to check the balance and adjust as needed. You can also fill the tub with some water to check the level. Pack the soil tightly around the tub to fill in any gap.
Stack a few building bricks on top of each other right in the middle of the tub (make sure the top surface of the bricks is roughly at the same level of the ground).
Follow the shape of the tub to cut out the metal net, but make it 1” (2.5cm) larger all around. Bend the edges to secure the net piece on top of the tub.
Set up the bamboo fountain poles to aim the running water right in the center of the tub (on top of the bricks). Connect the tubing to the pump and loop it throught the bamboo poles as in the photo above.
This step is optional, but I find it is very useful in terms of keeping the mosquitos away and preventing dirt and debris from falling inside the fountain tub. I drilled small drainage holes on top of some leftover plastic lids from household storage containers and use them to cover the surface of the tub.
Set the large anchor stone on top of the bricks and arrange river rocks and stones to completely cover the surface (do not follow the shape of the tub, but create a more organic outline).
Plug the pump into a grounded outlet, make any other necessary adjustments, sit back and enjoy your labor of love.