How To: Make a Solar-Powered Garden Fountain

04_03_09_fountain.jpgAs spring and summer get closer, we're dreaming up our ideal patio and garden. There are of course eco-friendly lanterns, lots of edible vegetation growing from our containers, and the sweet sound of a tiny babbling brook coming from a D-I-Y fountain.

Installing a solar-powered pump for a backyard pond or fountain not only saves energy, but also omits the need for an electrician's help to bury a line...saving you money on all fronts. Jump below for resources and fountain ideas!

First, decide on a design. You can make a fountain out of anything, but first you'll need a waterproof basin to serve as the base and to hold the pump--you can bury it, or you can choose a basin that you like, such as a ceramic crock, and let it sit out on the porch or in the garden. Then, gather found objects for the water to flow down (think local rocks, or maybe a set of bowls rigged at an angle....get creative!).

Take a cue from This Old House and follow their great installation tutorial. They say the project will cost $100-$200, but we think you can do it on the cheap by using thrifted or found objects to build your fountain.

Solar fountain pumps fall in the inexpensive range--we found most sources priced under $30--and if you use thrifted objects, we imagine you can do the whole thing for less than $50. Here are some of those sources for small solar-powered pumps. These may not send the water gushing through your fountain, but will give you a tender "bubbling brook" feel. Make sure you look at the gallons per hour the pumps offer; This Old House says that for a fountain, you don't need anything over 250.

Solar Powered Water Fountain Pump $29.95

Pacific Hydrostar Solar Powered Fountain Pump $19.99

Silicon Solar pumps, $15.95 and up

Photo by Brad Stoney via sxc.hu, adapted.