You tried sweating it out in the sauna, you can’t let go in a yoga pose, and om isn’t exactly hitting home. And no wonder—you’re working too hard at relaxing. What you need is a place to sit quietly and contemplate the sounds of nature: birds chirping, breezes blowing, brooks babbling. What—no backyard brook? Not a problem. Just build yourself the next best thing, with a softly trickling garden fountain.
The project is nothing to get stressed about. In a mere weekend, you can fountain-ize most any leftover garden ornament, turning it into an enduring monument to tranquillity. Revive a defunct birdbath, declare your own ode to a Grecian urn, or drill holes in a stack of rocks you found on-site, as This Old House technical editor Mark Powers did for a friend one hot afternoon. When the job is finished and your fountain runneth over, you’ll rinse the tension from your bones in calm, cascading rivulets. Relaxation never seemed so easy. (Photos by Kolin Smith)
2. ½-Inch Copper Pipeto carry the water from the pump to the top of the fountain. Buy a piece 2 feet longer than your fountain’s height.
3. Waterproof Basinsuch as a plastic storage bin, mason’s mortar-mixing bucket, or washtub, to hold the pump and collect the water. It should be 6 inches wider than the fountain base’s diameter and 1 foot taller than the pump so that it fits all the pipe connections while still keeping the pump submerged.
4. Stonesor other material to make the fountain body. Choose something that stacks easily; stones should have flat faces. The copper pipe will give some support, but the materials should stand well on their own.
5. Small Rocksor large aggregate, such as terra-cotta shards or tumbled glass, to cover the top of the pit. One 5-gallon bucketful should be enough.
7. ½-inch Ball Valveto regulate the water flow.
8. Screento protect the pump from debris. A fiberglass or aluminum window screen or grille, or anything that comes in a rigid frame, is best. Get one big enough to span the basin.
9. Composite Deckingsuch as Trex or TimberTech, to support the fountain.
10. Drainage Gravelfor in and under the catch basin. Get two 50-pound bags.
11. 1-inch PVC Conduitto carry the pump’s power cord underground to the outlet.