Mini Water Garden Fountain

There is nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of a gurgling stream, or a bubbling brook.  I have a pool at my house, and I love the water, but when I am out by the pool on a hot summer day, I think having that sound of water would just take the whole scene up a notch.  One of the things I really like about this, is that it is not only a fountain, but a mini water garden as well!  We grow a lot of of vegetables and fruits in pots on our deck in the summer, and having a water feature nestled in there with some cool water plants would look great.  This little project looks like a cheap, and easy way to achieve that without taking up too much real estate on my deck!  I found this DIY on, and they not only give the the DIY for the fountain, but a list of plants that would do well in a small fountain such as this.  Here is what they say to do:

Pump primer
To make these potted ponds, I used a 95 GPH pump (GPH stands for gallons per hour). Although 95 GPH may sound like a lot, it’s one of the smallest sizes on the market and is only appropriate for containers. Here is one I found on Amazon for $13.

Here’s the formula for calculating the volume of your pond or container using imperial measurements: length x width x depth (all in feet) will give you the cubic feet of a rectangular container. Multiply this by 7.5 to obtain the number of U.S. gallons. The galvanized-steel tub used in the picture below measures one foot deep by 11⁄2 feet square: 1 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 7.5 = 16.88 U.S. gallons. To calculate the size of the pump needed, divide the total number of gallons by two, which means you would only need an 8 GPH pump for a container this size.  Here is a container I found on Amazon for $27.

But that’s just the beginning. The size of the container can also influence the strength of pump required. The longer the tubing from the pump to the water output, the more GPH is needed to keep the water moving. A waterfall entails its own set of calculations, as distance from water pump to water output can be significant. For the best advice and information on selecting a water pump, visit a retailer that specializes in water gardens.

Installing water plants
To install water plants, remove them from the plastic containers they’re sold in, wrap the soil and roots in burlap, then place in small mesh baskets (specifically made for water plants and available at most garden centres).

Cover the top with pea gravel (this will keep the soil down). Remember to check the pump’s filter periodically, as this is where residual soil will collect.

The smaller the pump, the smaller the filter and the more frequently it needs to be cleaned out.

The plants

  • Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’): A marginal water plant, meaning it can be grown either at the edge of or in a pond but still in soil, this unusually shaped rush reaches 60 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Make sure you’re not buying J. balticus ‘Spiralis’, which is less upright and has a tendency to spread. Zone 4
  • Dwarf or miniature cattail (Typha minima): Another marginal plant, it reaches up to 45 centimetres tall and grows best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’): A marginal plant that produces white flowers in early summer, it must be planted in a perennial bed and mulched to successfully overwinter. It reaches 15 centimetres tall, does well in sun or part shade and tends to spread. Zone 5
  • Needle rush hair grass or spike rush (Eleocharis acicularis): A marginal as well as an oxygenating plant (essential for the survival of fish), this North American native grows to about 30 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Fairy moss (Azolla caroliniana and A. filiculoides): This tiny moss (one to three centimetres across) floats on the surface of the water. The green fronds turn red in fall; the plant spreads rapidly. Overwinter indoors; native to North America.

Tub time (shown below)
A large, galvanized-steel tub (30 centi-metres deep, 46 centimetres square) serves as the base for this water feature.

The pump was installed on the bottom, then covered with a plastic pot. A trick I learned from Canadian Gardening’s previous editor, Beckie Fox, is to use a piece of gridded plastic (the type that’s installed over fluorescent lighting) as a foundation for the top layer of stones. I added a variety of larger sizes (not pebbles) and finished it off with a flat slab of slate, which forms the ledge over which the stream of water runs.