How to Build a Pot Fountain

Create this water feature in a single weekend

Fine Gardening - Issue 131

Nothing is more relaxing than the sound of moving water in the garden. Here’s how to build a one-of-a-kind pot fountain water feature in a weekend.

This water feature consists of an underground, waterproof basin; sturdy grating; and a pot of your choice. Most of the supplies you will need can be found at a plumbing supply or hardware store or a nursery that carries water garden supplies.

Step 1: Plumb the pot

  • For this step, you’ll need your decorative pot, a 1¾-inch by 1-inch barb fitting, a 1¾-inch PVC female adapter, plumbers epoxy, and a drill with a half-inch masonry bit.
  • First, using a masonry bit, create a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. If yours already has a hole, it’ll probably need to be widened by slowly rotating the masonry bit around the sides of the hole.
  • Then put the barb fitting into the hole so the threaded end goes inside the pot.
  • Next, thread the PVC female adapter onto the end of the barb inside of the pot.
  • Finally, put plumber’s epoxy around the base of the fitting to seal it in place and make the container watertight.

Step 2: Install the reservoir

  • For this step, you’ll need a waterproof catch basin, a few cinder blocks, some sand, a heavy duty plastic grate, four feet of flexible tubing, a submersible pump, two hose clamps, flexible screen/mesh, and a reciprocating saw.
  • TIP: A pot 30 inches tall or less will need a pump rated at 950 gallons per hour (gph) or less. A taller pot requires 950 gallons or more.
  • Dig a hole deep enough to allow your catch basin to sit slightly above ground level.
  • Shovel in a 1-inch layer of sand. This allows you to easily level the reservoir by shifting the sand.
  • Place two or three cinder blocks in the center of the basin to give additional support to the pot.
  • Cut a trap door in the corner of the plastic grate that is large enough for the pump to easily pass through. This gives you easy access to the pump for maintenance without having to disassemble the entire fountain.
  • Cut a small hole in the center of the grate for the flexible tubing.
  • Attach the one end of the tubing to the pump, clamp it in place, and poke the other end out the hole in the center of the grate.
  • Place the screening over the grate and cut a corresponding hole for the flexible tubing.

Step 3: Place the fountain

  • For this step, you will a length of ¾-inch PVC pipe, black spray paint, and some decorative stones.
  • Cut a piece of ¾-inch PVC pipe so that it is the same height as the pot and spray the top 6 inches with black paint.
  • Then, place the PVC pipe (black side up) into the PVC female adaptor in the bottom of the pot.
  • Bring the pot over to reservoir. Twist the flexible tubing onto the barb sticking out of the bottom of the pot and clamp in place.
  • Slowly lift the pot into a standing position. If you have a large pot, you may need a friend to help you with this step.
  • Place decorative stones on top of the screening to disguise the reservoir.
  • Then, fill the reservoir with water, turn on the pump, and enjoy.

Special thanks to Nelson Water Gardens for donating the materials for this project.

View Comments


  1. trishaskeltonhedman 06/01/2014

    Where can I buy the basin and the plastic grate?

    1. user-7006998 06/10/2014

      I have see them on Amazon. I ordered the Little Giant 36"one. Don't have it installed yet. All of them are around 200$

  2. shirleygarrity 06/02/2014

    Where can I find a cheap ceramic pot like that??

    1. user-7006998 06/10/2014

      If you find cheap let us know. Otherwise Garden Ridge, Home Depot have them around 199$.

      1. user-7007798 09/04/2015

        Buy the 26" round plastic plantar at Lowes in the pond section for a reservoir. Cost @$12.
        The tall pot can be bought at Kroger in the spring. @$25
        Also, at Lowes is a small fountain pump @$20

        1. user-7008084 05/23/2016

          Keep in mind that there are 12v pumps available, allowing you to place the fountain a good distance away from the house.

        2. carlenedomangue 06/14/2016

          @Cathy,Thx for that info! What did you use for the heavy duty plastic grate?

          1. user-7007798 06/14/2016

            I, actually, just used some small wire mesh like what is used for a rabbit cage. I cut out a place for pump ware and placed it over the basin. I covered with river rocks and buried the edges with mulch.

          2. carlenedomangue 06/14/2016

            Thank you!

    2. user-7007027 06/18/2014

      I found them at the close-out stores such as Ollies and Big Lots; inexpensive quality ceramic pots ($30-$80 depending on size). I purchased several for our decks & patio.

  3. mrsreagan 05/22/2015

    Okay, this is ridiculous.

  4. user-7007754 08/08/2015

    to me finding a reasonable priced glazed pot is the challenge??

    1. user-7008084 05/23/2016

      Ollies, if you live in the Pennsylvania/Maryland/DC area, has loads of pots, some you'd need a friendly lumberjack to help carry.

  5. dfdies 09/29/2015

    above is misleading. What she means is purchase "one" 3/4" by 1" barb fitting, (that means the 3/4 side is the threaded male side you stick in the pot hole and the 1" side is the barb. Note: NOTHING IS LENGTH, we are talking diameter here and that is how home improvements stores sell it. The other error is a "one" 3/4" PVC female adapter, You need one end to be a threaded female and the other end to be smooth (no threads). smooth end is where the 3/4" pipe goes in.

    Finally, the pump for this is about $100 (950 GPH or greater). Please look at the pump. MOST have a 3/4" outlet and you will have to buy another barb fitting to screw (or glue) onto the pump outlet. (if it is 1" then get the right size barb fitting)

    FINALLY: the corrugated tubing is pricey because they will sell in in a 20 ft length. You can purchase clear plastic tubing by the foot. In our example above we used a 1" barb so you have to buy 1" tubing. Pay attention! You want the 1" ID tubing NOT the 1" OD tubing.

    As to the plastic grate.........hard to find. Much easier to buy wire shelving and trim to size. Hope this helps! -------------Dr. Dave

    1. carlenedomangue 06/14/2016

      @dfdies-Any suggestions on the flexible screen/mesh?

      1. dfdies 06/14/2016

        yes, they sell at home depot or lowes. Look outside in garden area. Typically sold as "deerblock protective mesh" or "birdblock protective netting" or if you want wire, then get the "poultry netting". This will be supported by your grate (which I was unable to find, so I just bought wire shelving and trimmed to size). Mine is beautiful, however it gets dirty after a time and had to suck out all the water and replace. Will try to keep some bleach in it next time. SAVE THE RECEIPT for your pump as it is typically warranty for 2 years.

        1. carlenedomangue 06/15/2016

          Thank you! What is better than bleach is peroxide. :) My father-in-law has a small pond w/fish that is about 2500 gallons. He puts 6 bottles of peroxide once a week. Of course without fish it would not need to be done as often.

  6. user-7008816 08/05/2017

    How do I get water from one pot to another pot with a hose I've got a pot filled with water and the other just up on its side just a little higher with stones in and the hose is in the bottom of the water pot feeding through to the other pot but no water is coming out of hose just want it to drip through nicely and I'm not sure how to do it??? Pls pls help? X

  7. user-6128271 09/18/2020

    I'm not sure where the electricity comes from in this example and how it was brought to the fountain without being visible? I don't see an outlet near the fountain and digging up a trench for the electric cord was not mentioned. I would like to have a fountain away from the house and the nearest electric outlet. Thanks!

    1. 2hairydogs 02/14/2021

      exactly my question too. hope we get an answer...

  8. mikefraser 10/11/2021

    I just wanted to say thank you for your article on how to build a pot fountain. I think it was an excellent piece of writing and very helpful! I’m personally in the process of building one right now so this is really helpful for me. Thank you again! tree & shrub care

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