Designing a DIY water feature can be a challenge if you are on a tight budget. It can be even more of a challenge if you are looking for a contemporary water feature to fit in with an updated garden space.

Here is a great solar powered water feature that combines the beauty of natural materials with a more modern design, and does it all for less that $30!

water feature

 

 

Supplies Needed:

Water tight container (Rubbermaid storage container was used here)

Fountain pump (we chose a solar powered pump)

Several flat concrete pavers, depending on the size of your container.

Rocks of different sizes

Plant tolerant of water, such as a water grass

Step one:

Decide where to place your water feature. If you don’t have power nearby, consider a solar powered fountain pump. Keep in mind, solar pumps ONLY work while the sun is shining! If the sun even goes behind a cloud, the pump will temporarily stop.

If you plan to add live plants, make sure to site your water feature in the sun.

Trace the shape of the container onto the dirt, then use a shovel to remove enough dirt to sink the container level with the ground.

water feature

water feature

water feature

Step Two:

Add large rocks to the bottom of the water feature, then use the rocks to anchor your pump in place.

Step Three:

Lay the pavers along the edge of the water feature to cover the container edge, and to help hide the power cord. You can dig a trench for the power cord to hide it, or simply wind it behind plants to camouflage it.

water feature

Step Four:

Use flat stones to fill in the corners where the pavers don’t meet. Use your creativity to put your own twist on your design.

Step Five:

If you are using a water plant, place the entire pot in the water feature so that the rim will sit just above the water line. A black pot will be nearly invisible in the water.

Use more rocks to fill your water feature, hide the container and hold the plant in place. Try to use a mix of different colors, shapes and sizes.

Step Six:

Fill with water, plug in the pump and adjust the spray until it makes the sound and effect you are looking for. You can choose a fountain spray, or a natural bubbling over stones.

DIY Project: Contemporary Garden Water Feature Less than $30

Clean your water feature on a regular basis, and use an algae inhibitor available at your home improvement store where they sell pond supplies.

Easy DIY water feature project for a contemporary garden… that anyone can do, on even a tight budget!

DIY Project: Contemporary Garden Water Feature Less than $30

 



91 Comments

  1. Cathy February 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Where did you find a solar water pump for under $30. I have been searching and can’t come close to this price. Thanks for any help.
    Cathy

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard February 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      We found it at Harbor Freight…

      Reply
      1. Navar June 8, 2016 at 8:22 am

        They are on the website for 17.99.

        Reply
      2. Heather May 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        What size pump are you using?

        Reply
        1. Kathy Woodard May 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

          42 GPH

          Reply
    2. judy January 30, 2016 at 6:52 am

      You can also buy the pumps at Home Depot, Lowes or Menards. I think I would put a small filter pump in the pond to keep the algae down and maybe a couple of gold fish. With my pond I kept a screen over the top to keep the falling leaves out in the fall. I soon had a bullfrog move in the he helped keep the water clean.

      Reply
      1. Angie March 25, 2016 at 9:45 pm

        and turtles!

        Reply
    3. Anita June 27, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      Try Amazon….I found one for $13.

      Reply
    4. destiny March 27, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      would like to try and add light features for at night in water feature could this work

      Reply
    5. Patricia May 2, 2017 at 5:50 am

      You can find them on wish.com. it will take a while to get to you but the price is worth the wait.

      Reply
  2. Tricia September 28, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I love this water feature idea. We have a mosquito problem where we live though. Is there something we can do to deter mosquitoes that won’t be a hazard to other wildlife or the environment?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard October 31, 2014 at 6:48 am

      I simply overfill the feature and let the old water be replaced by the new, every couple of days during mosquito season. That assures that no eggs can hatch. Anyone have more ideas for environmentally conscious mosquito control?

      Reply
      1. Meme April 21, 2015 at 3:46 am

        Simply moving the water with the pump will keep mosquitoes at bay – it breaks the surface tension and they can’t land to lay eggs…

        Reply
      2. Valerie May 25, 2015 at 8:01 pm

        Gambusia affinis aka mosquito fish eat up to a 100 larvae a day. They are hardy except in freezing temperatures. Check with a local mosquito control agency, pond supply stores, pet stores.

        Reply
        1. Navar June 8, 2016 at 8:24 am

          They are also smaller and cleaner than goldfish that might have a hard time living in a pond this small- the water will probably get pretty hot and have low oxygen levels in a pond this small. The pump will help will both of those problems.

          Reply
      3. Lynda Smith January 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

        There is a fish you can buy that eats mosquito larvae check out garden supply stores that sell items for water peaches such as water lilies Exedra

        Reply
      4. Sandra Presley February 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm

        You can drop bleach tablets in and it should control mosquitoes

        Reply
      5. James Mcguire March 3, 2017 at 4:28 am

        There’s a very hardy minnow that’s native to most, areas called gambusia? I think. They eat several times their weight in mosquito eggs.

        Reply
      6. Carol Timko May 19, 2017 at 11:10 pm

        couple of 29 cent goldfish from wal mart would gladly eat any larvae.

        Reply
    2. Sheryl November 9, 2014 at 12:26 am

      You can also just pour a tad amount of olive oil on the water. It will coat the surface of the water and the larvae will not be able to breathe.

      Reply
    3. cheryl January 9, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      You can purchase the natural way for mosquitos . There should be fish a mosquito gambuzi they look like size of a guppy they eat mosquito larve .

      Reply
    4. Pat Taylor April 24, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Mosquitoes need stagnant water for the eggs to hatch. The pump working even intermittently should be sufficient to keep the mosquitoes from breeding.

      Reply
    5. Sue Prewitt May 16, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Mosquitoes won’t lay eggs in moving water. So, as long as your fountain is running, there is no problem.

      Reply
      1. Kathy Woodard May 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

        Exactly!

        Reply
        1. Berta March 7, 2017 at 11:26 am

          I here Disney uses citronella essential oil in some or all of theres..am gonna try it!(:

          Reply
    6. Faith Huddleston May 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      There is a product that you can buy at Wal-Mart called Mosquito Dunks. It contains bacillus thurengiensis which is a bacteria that kills the mosquito larvae. it is safe for humans and pets.

      Reply
      1. Tyia Padilla January 2, 2016 at 1:37 am

        I’ve been using the Mosquito Dunks (purchased from Lowe’s). They work great. I put them in my fish ponds and in the bottom of my plant containers. I live in Tulare County, California, where we have the perfect weather for Mosquitoes and West Niles is a huge problem and a concern. We spend most of our time outside during the summer and the Mosquito Dunks have been the only product that works, keeping us and our fur babies safe.

        Also, please note: If you have any over spray in your pond where water drips, splashes or sprays outside of your pond and the ground or area around your pond stays moist or wet, you will have a Mosquito problem.

        Reply
    7. Denise Hosner February 6, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      MOSQUITO DUNKS BIOLOGICAL MOSQUITO CONTROL. I have a friend who uses these in her pond.

      Reply
    8. Loretta March 4, 2016 at 7:43 am

      The goldfish will eat the mosquito larvae! :))

      Reply
    9. Navar June 8, 2016 at 8:25 am

      If you do not have fish- a drop or two of oil in the water will prevent mosquitoes as well. There are also pellets and floating rings which kill mosquitoes too.

      Reply
    10. J Roth June 16, 2016 at 7:56 am

      A drop of Dawn dish soap. Stays on top so eggs cannot hatch. Small amount doesn’t effect plants.

      Reply
    11. Marnita July 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      I read about tablets that kill mosquitoes for water features. Just bought some from a nursery along with my water plants. Cost $7.99

      Reply
    12. M. L. Laker November 21, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      If you have a pump that circulates the water it should not be a problem…if you put a fish or two or have a frog take up residency, they will also take care of the problem. I have built several small & med. ponds, plus many container water features all out doors with a inexpensive pumps circulating the water, never had Mosquitos. Regarding fish , they attract raccoons who will eat them, so put screen on the pond or make it deep enough (3’+) with straight sides so they won’t go in the water and the rocks for fish to hid under. For this lovely pond it is to shallow to put fish, without using a screen the raccoons can’t move.

      Reply
    13. ritareplyz February 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      The pump pumps water and mosquitos won’t lay eggs in moving water.

      Reply
  3. Rick January 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I heard of people using gold fish or other small aquatic fish for bug control.

    Reply
  4. Jen February 12, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Is the pump simply for water circulation?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard March 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Yes, it is to circulate the water through the spray head, to give the idea of moving water… Moving water also helps discourage mosquito breeding…

      Reply
  5. Kaya April 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I think I would go for a water pump with UV filter to avoid algeas if the pond is installed in a sunny place.

    Reply
  6. Sarah April 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    This is really great! What’s the best way to clean it?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Twice a season, I take out all the rocks, pull up the liner and wash it out really well, then replace…

      Reply
  7. Angie Murry April 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Just a simple reminder that ANYTIME you dig, you should do a “dig one call”. It is free and your life might depend on it :)

    Reply
  8. Courtney April 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Where do you out the pump? The corner? And for the solar where do you put the solar mat

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 21, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      I put the pump right in the center, but where is totally up to you! I have the solar panel in sunny area 3-4 feet away from the water feature, i dig the cord an inch under the soil to hide it, and that works well…

      Reply
  9. Theresa May 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

    This is one of the prettiest and easier DIY pond ideas I have ever seen!! Thanks

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard June 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Thank you Theresa! I need to post recent pics of it, the plants have filled in so much!

      Reply
  10. Leia Suliveres May 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    How big should the container be and how deep?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard June 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

      It’s up to you as to size and shape, mine is about 3 feet long and 12 inches deep… I simply used one of those Tupperware type containers you get that are made to slide under the bed!

      Reply
  11. Kate June 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I am wondering if this would work on a patio, using planter boxes around the sides ?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      It would, if your liner is a sturdy enough container to hold the weight of the water on its own, without the support of soil sides…

      Reply
  12. peg July 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Can you put fish in it?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      I would not put fish in a water feature that has a pump in it like ours… you could if there is no pump or if has a protective cage!

      Reply
    2. M. L. Laker November 21, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      The small recirculating pumps work fine with fish. I have had this set up for years, and did not lose a fish to a pump, just raccoons.

      Reply
  13. Adriana September 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Kathy

    What size are the long pavers you used? We’ve been looking but can’t find any thing similar. Also what sized container? We were looking at 52 qt tub

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard October 28, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      The 52 quart from Walmart is what I used… the pavers were 12×6… hope that helps!

      Reply
  14. Betty Jo January 6, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Do NOT use gambuzi in any small pond or fountain. You will be very sorry! I had mosquito abetement put 2 in a very small pond in a bontanic garden. Very soon there were 100 then 500–they were eating eat other I think. They were attacking some small turtles. I had to drain the pond and kill them. It was awful. I even avoid killing a snail. I can not say en ough how you should avoid these fish without doing a lot of research. Mosquito dunks and just moving water.

    Reply
  15. Jody January 31, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    I love it. My son hesitated when I said I wanted a water feature. He can not deny me now!
    Already looked at Walmart website for container and saved it. Off to check Home Depot for pavers. I am so excited.

    Reply
  16. katrina January 31, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    BEST EVER. I have NO craft or outside projects experience (or inside, to think of it) and I’m a renter, and landlord lives beside me in an orig. craftsman high-water bungalo (very cute) the back yard, pretty big considereing I’m in midtown Sacramento) and every year I try to dream up something, ANYthing, with water. I miss the beach soooo much.

    The only thing I could ever come up with was: Purchase a large plastic kiddie pool, dig hole same size, lay pool in ground so top is even with ground. put smaller kiddie pool in middle, or edge?? needn’t be a particular shape, I guess):

    Fill the outer larger tub with sand, the smaller inner one with water. voila Instant beach. then go from there with decorating. But I figured it it hadn’t been done, there was prob. a good reason, so I haven’t done it yet.

    I think I could try this, and perhaps even he’ll like it so much he’ll do one in his yard. there is a water spigot on both properties (one is beneath a beautiful big fig tree that I gorge on when ripe). should they be near the spigots? I’m totally not getting/understanding the elec./pump part. I also want it for my cat and I to meditate, she’s getting old and she’s my soul mate, so I want to do something really special for the two of us…soothing, cooling, fun, for the hot hot dry summer ahead. I’m going to try this.

    Reply
  17. Liz April 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Love this smaller scale contemporary water feature. :)

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Liz!

      Reply
  18. Beryl Franklin May 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    We have a family of blue herons nearby that make it all but impossible to put goldfish in a pond of this sort. They have made it a seafood restaurant. To defeat them make a frame to fit (to lift off when cleaning) and staple chicken wire.

    Reply
  19. AJ June 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for this great idea. Can you please post a picture where you placed the solar pump in the pond and also a picture of end product..like do you have a fountain spray or bubling over stones.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Well since this was early in our blogging, I hate to say we didn’t take the best photos… The photo at the top is the finished project, and there is a bubbler set into the stones at the very middle. The slow shutter speed just didn’t catch it.

      Reply
  20. Briana July 14, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Will this work on the east coast where we have brutal winters? Would the fish live?

    Reply
  21. Debbie Mitchell July 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    WOW! I cannot wait to try this! I’ve been asking my husband for years for a water something. He’s on a business trip in CA and I may just do this before he gets home! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 8, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Thx Debbie! We loved ours, and so did the birds!

      Reply
  22. Susan July 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    This is being stored away for my dream tiny home.

    Reply
  23. Lynn Postma July 31, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Will the plastic work where it gets to freezing temperatures, sometimes even to 20 below? We have a flowing well and I thought this would be a great catcher for it.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      We live where it gets to around 20 degrees, and it did fine, but 20 below? I could see that being an issue. Have any of our readers who have done this project (thanks for all your emails and comments, BTW!) lived in an area with winters that cold? If so, how did it hold up?

      Reply
      1. Shirley January 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

        Take fish inside when the weather gets cool ,into an aquarium until spring,or when it gets warm outside in I early summer.

        Reply
        1. Shirley January 18, 2017 at 5:07 pm

          Take fish inside when the weather gets cool ,into an aquarium until spring,or when it gets warm outside in I early summer.Using plastic containers or bins likely wouldn’t work in extreme cold winters,unless you would drain the water and take the pump out

          Reply
      2. Sandra Fisa February 10, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        I live in Wisconsin and I had a mini-pond like this in my backyard with koa fish, live plants, and a water pump in it. I brought the Koa fish in in the winter months and put them in an aquarium, then put them back out in the mini-pond in the spring. I used a heavy plastic black round tub that was about a 1 to 2 feet deep and about 3to 4 feet across, that I bought at Menards. The tub worked wonderfully was deep enough to protect the fish when really hot out. My Koa’s ended up living for around 12 yrs. this way. They got to be like a pound a piece. I had 5 Koas and 1 Gold fish in it. Never had any trouble with animals getting into it.

        Reply
  24. Nancy DeLong July 31, 2016 at 8:40 am

    This is such a great idea! I live in Michigan and I’m wondering what you do about the live plant and fish in the winter?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      You need to talk to your local water garden expert (Ask at your plant nursery if you don’t know of one)… There are both fish and hardy live plants that can make it though some winter temps, but it is different for each area. Good luck!

      Reply
  25. Anna July 31, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    You could probably use two containers at different depths and create a small waterfall or mini stream.

    Reply
  26. Stacie August 8, 2016 at 4:40 am

    We did this just yesterday after seeing yours. Our daughter collects rocks from everywhere she goes. So now, instead of storing them in different containers, they’re displayed in this beautiful rock garden! It came out beautifully! Thank you so much for the amazing idea!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Yay! We loved ours for 4 years! We recently moved and had to let it go… :(

      Reply
      1. Lexi February 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

        You should also consider painting the pavers in glow in the dark paint that is used for a pathway, it’s beautiful and colorful at night!!!

        Reply
  27. sandra sutton February 10, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Finally, what is that ground cover shown in the picture of the finished project. It is sandy and small yellow grainy… I love this and have seen it used for driveways… I guess I could go and ask somewhere but i thought Iwould ask here. I need to door driveway .

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard February 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Its simply called crushed salmon stone here… any landscaping supply should be able to help you find one like it!

      Reply
  28. Dawn February 13, 2017 at 11:02 am

    to help with possible shifting of the container, I would put sandstone in the dug hole before putting the container in. Especially where the temps get very cold and cause frost heaves.
    Three – six inches should do it.

    Reply
  29. Linda Baine February 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Could this be made as a bird bath? This would be ideal for birds to drink and bath in..especially one so shallow…

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard February 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      We did have birds that would land on the stones and drink, and we loved that it attracted wildlife! Had a frog live there one season as well!

      Reply
  30. nancy May 13, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    You can find a lot of these kinds of supplies at Habitat stores, etc. cheap!

    Reply
  31. Heather Joy May 18, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    What size pump did you use?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      The one we used was from Harbor Freight and was made by Pacific Hydrostar, it says maximum flow up to 42 GPH. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  32. Jeannine May 28, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    I am just starting to put mine together – buying the equipment. I already had a pump from an old fountain, so I was well ahead of that step. I would love to have a deeper fountain than the one shown – and I loved the idea above of putting one deeper and then another one over the end and having a waterfall, but I don’t imagine I can get my husband to dig anything that deep in the horrible clay we have here – hard and heavy, it is. I am seeming to find it difficult to find a tub the correct size to use with the pavers I have found, but I guess I could make the pavers into any design that I choose; it doesn’t have to look exactly like this one. Then again, the simplicity of this one is what I find so charming. My husband says it has a zen feel to it. Not that I practice Zen, but I do enjoy the Oriental presence in some things, and I think this is pretty perfect. The fact that it is even with the ground appeals to me, too – something different than the above-the-ground fountains which we usually find. I like them, too – could use them everyplace on my property if I just had electricity for them. Thank you for this wonderful, simple idea. Now on to finding simple patio slabs which are the correct sizes.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Glad you love it as much as we do! Good luck on your version!

      Reply
  33. Linda Abbott July 14, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I’m moving to Tampa, Fl. soon and would love to do this in my back yard. My question is how hot the water gets. If I put plants or fish in it, I don’t want to cook them. Also, how fast does the water evaporate? If you do put fish in it, don’t you have to dechlorinate the water you add? Sorry for all the questions, but I’m really excited about this project. I’m 73 years old and this is easy enough for me to do myself. I know I want at least one water feature in my small back yard and you just may have solved what kind I want! Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Linda! I think it all depends on how deep your container is and whether its in full sun. So much of gardening is trying things and making educated guesses. If you pick a container that is at least 12 inches deep, I would think it would work for you! I would visit the local pond shop and ask them about your local water and what additives you need, if any. Good luck!

      Reply

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