Friday, May 16, 2008
Installing a Disappearing Fountain
This will not be a super detailed how to guide with pictures along the way, because along the way I got a little angry and frustrated and couldn't stop until I was done with the beast. The project shouldn't have lasted 6-7 hours, but it did.
If you do a little bit of research online, you'll see there are two basic ways to install such a fountain: dig a hole, put some liner in, cinder block to hold the pot or stone, insert pump, backfill with rock; or, dig the hole, put in a pre made plastic tub, put in cinder blocks to hold weight, put a black plastic grate on top of that, then a fine mesh layer to catch debris, then cover with rocks (don't forget to cut off a corner of the grate to get at the pump). Get that?
You are nuts to try option one--how long would it take you to get to the pump for cleaning or winter storage? And wouldn't the mesh help keep stuff away from the pump (am I dreaming?). So, I went with option two. The problem for me was that once I put the pot on top of the grate, it was quickly obvious there was not enough support to keep the pot from wobbling--even with one, then two cinder blocks beneath (the plastic grate isn't reinforced like it should be). Once I removed the grate and put the pot directly on the cinders, it was stable--and once I shimmed the pot, as it wasn't even level on the bottom! (You might not have this problem if you used a large square-based stone. BTW, getting a drilled stone about 3' tall would run you around $600 in Lincoln comma Nebraska. $300 at least for the stone, then $10 per inch to drill a hole; and this is still cheaper than buying the complete deal at a nursery or landscaper. Way outa' my price range.)
So, went to Home Depot and bought two 12" square cement steppers. Cut a 12" square hole through the grate with a saw so the steppers could fit in, giving height to the vase-shaped pot (wanted to keep the vase shape, not be buried by rock if I had just cut a round hole in the grate so the pot would sit directly on the cinder blocks). Then, I put the pot on the two steppers, which were on top of the cinder blocks. Voila.
That was harder than leveling the plastic basin on a very slight incline, and making sure the whole thing was an inch or two above grade, as an area nearby floods and holds water in a very heavy rain.
The next day after install a grackle perched on the fountain's lip and took a drink. Yes! Too bad it was a grackle.
This is not a regular pot--it is cast concrete with a covered top, which has a hole where you can screw in different fountain heads if you choose. A hose runs out the bottom (or out the side, has two holes), and connects to the pump. It's pretty heavy, and I had to move it 20 times while my wife and I figured out how to make the thing stable (it IS Nebraska = much wind). I thought about getting a regular planter, but didn't want to mess with more than I had to--like cutting pvc pipe, finding a way to secure it to the pot's bottom, dealing with leaks, et cetera.
I think it looks pretty nifty, and if it attracts more birds, cool. Right now it's on an extension cord and timer, plugged in to a gfi on the deck, but I've read it's safer to have an electrician come and install an outlet right by the fountain. $$$
And, as an aside to this long post--I'll soon be taking a moderate hiatus from blogging to live my life for a bit (boy it's consuming)--enjoy the below pics of the incredible plum / eggplant colored smokebush leaves (royal purple), the leaves of dappled willow on a stick (a real one purchased from a real nursery), and a mourning dove watching me pull weeds.