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Add the soothing sound of trickling water to your backyard sanctuary with a sturdy concrete fountain. If you can mix concrete, you can build this project.
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You can build this fountain as shown or vary the shape and dimensions of the fountain by using different objects as molds. If you increase the height, check the pump instructions to ensure that it has enough power to lift water to the top of the sphere.
Measure and mark 12 inches up from one end of the concrete forming tube in several locations. Connect the marks with a line and cut the tube using a utility knife. (A saw also works.) Then cut or drill a 3/4-inch hole in the center of the 5-quart plastic pail. Use a hacksaw to cut two pieces of 3/4-inch PVC pipe -- one roughly 24 inches long and one 14 inches long.
Complete this and the next step before you begin mixing concrete to keep small delays from becoming big problems.
Center the 5-quart pail on a piece of scrap plywood and insert the PVC pipe a couple inches down through the hole in the pail. Place the concrete forming tube on the plywood with the pail and pipe at its center. Mark the pipe where it comes up to the edge of the form so you’ll know if the bottom end accidentally slips down inside the pail.
Wearing gloves and breathing protection, mix concrete in the polyethylene tub according to the package directions. Avoid adding any more water than necessary. You should be able to squeeze a handful of the mix and have it hold its shape in your hand.
Scoop the concrete into the form while keeping the pail centered and flat against the plywood. Gently pack the concrete around the pail using a short length of scrap wood, such as a 2 x 4. Continue adding concrete until you reach the top edge of the form. Check that the PVC pipe is still centered and hasn’t dropped down into the pail. Smooth the concrete even with the top of the form. To reduce the number of air bubbles in the mix, gently tap the outside of the form without accidentally shifting it on the plywood base.
Spray the inside of the glass globe with cooking spray, drain off any surplus, and fill it with concrete mix. Stand the globe so the opening is level and insert the taped end of the PVC pipe until it touches the center of the globe at the bottom. Add concrete as needed to bring it even with the opening on the globe. Rest the globe on a dry 5-quart pail and run duct tape from the top of the PVC pipe, down the sides of the globe, and ending at the 5-quart pail to hold the pipe in place.
While the concrete cures overnight, thoroughly wash the mixing tub and tools. After the base and sphere cure overnight, cut the sides of the tube with a utility knife and remove it. Use a saw to cut the PVC pipe even with the top of the base.
While wearing gloves and eye protection, place the globe inside a plastic sheet or trash bag and tap the glass until it breaks. Continuing breaking the glass until it falls away from the concrete, but don’t hammer the concrete. Use the prongs on the hammer to lift off any stubborn pieces of glass. Then discard the plastic with the broken glass.
Drive a dowel or other stick through the PVC pipe and break through the duct tape and thin layer of concrete on the opposite end. Clean up the edges of the PVC with a utility knife.
Use the hacksaw to cut the PVC pipe flush with the concrete. Clean up the cut end with a utility knife.
Dig a 26-in x 20-in hole where you want your fountain. It should be shallow enough to allow the lip of the concrete mixing tub to be flush with the ground.
Level the bottom of the hole to avoid transferring dips and bumps to the tub. You want water to be able to collect at the center.
Insert the tub in the hole. Wash off the river rock to remove any loose dirt and add a layer of rock to the bottom of the tub around the edges. Attach a length of vinyl hose to the pump and center the pump on the bottom of the tray. Add washed river rock to hold it in place. Guide the electrical cord to the outside edge of the tray and cover it with rock.
Thread the vinyl hose through the PVC pipe in the base and center the base on the tray full of rocks. Check that the top is level.
Test fit the sphere on the base by threading the hose through the sphere pipe. Trim the hose flush with the PVC pipe in the top of the sphere.
Spread adhesive silicone around the tube on the base and underside of the sphere. Then rest the sphere on the base so the PVC pipes touch. Add silicone to the space between the vinyl hose and the PVC pipe at the top of the globe, but avoid getting any inside the hose. Allow the silicone to dry thoroughly before running water through the hose.
Fill the tray to the top with water. Then connect the line from the pump to a power source and check the flow of water to the top of the sphere. Always unplug the fountain when you’re not around and refill the tray before each use.