Outside drinking fountains are a unique accessory for decks, patios, and even landscaped gardens. They provide an interesting conversation piece, as well as a central focus point for landscaping, flower boxes, flowerbeds, and walkways. Relatively easy to build, especially for do-it-yourselfers, they also make drinking water readily accessible for children at play as well as those wanting to spend some quiet reflective hours in their garden. You can certainly buy freestanding drinking fountains but they are usually quite expensive and one you build yourself lends a quality of artistry and creativity to your garden artwork and landscape. So, here is one freestanding drinking fountain pattern that is easy to build with tools most do-it-yourselfers would have on hand and parts that are usually available through your local hardware store or plumbing company.
- Determine the location for your drinking fountain. Make sure that there is proper drainage at the base of the fountain for splash and overspray.
- It is best to install the fountain within a short distance of an underground water line. If you are not sure where one is, an underground utilities locator can help you find one.
- It is easiest to install this fountain on a deck that sits above ground.
Making the fountain
- Purchase a drinking fountain bubbler from a plumbing company in your area. If they do not have one in stock, they can usually order it through their suppliers.
- Cut a piece of 3″ copper pipe the length you want your bubbler to extend above the deck. This may vary depending on who you expect to utilize the fountain e.g. children, older adults, teenagers, disabled people, etc.
- Drill a hole in the end of a 3″ copper cap off to one side of the center of the cap.
- Install the bubbler in the copper cap. Secure it with a mounting nut from inside the cap.
- Attach a length of soft copper tubing or plastic tubing to the threaded end of the bubbler inside the copper cap. Make sure it is a watertight connection. Solder the copper tubing in place or use the proper fittings to make a plastic connection.
- Fashion a base to the 3″ copper pipe. You can use a copper flange, a brass toilet flange soldered in place, or fashion wrought iron feet like the ones shown here. Use your imagination to build a sturdy base that will be fastened to the deck.
Installing the fountain
- Drill a hole through the deck planking for the water line.
- Feed the water line through the hole and mount the fountain securely to the deck.
- Once you have located the underground water line, turn the water to it off.
- Cut the underground water line and install a tee using the appropriate material along with a shutoff valve to the fountain. This shutoff valve should be a ground key stop and waste valve so you can drain water from the fountain piping in the winter and protect it from freezing.
- Connect the water line from the fountain to the shutoff valve.
- Turn the water on and check your plumbing connections for leaks.
You can finish the copper fountain with a chemical that gives it an antique green patina. Then apply a couple of coats of marine or spar varnish to protect the finish.
You can also finish the copper with a few clear coats of lacquer or varnish or you can paint it.
Make sure that all the edges of the fountain are sanded or filed smooth to prevent cuts or scrapes.
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum