Installing a Disappearing Fountain

Installing a Disappearing Fountain
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This has by far and away been one of my most rewarding projects. Installing a disappearing fountain has been a wish list project for a really long time. I go to trade shows and see all of these beautiful fountains but never actually purchase or move forward until now.

As I was shopping for the containers for my new privacy panels, I came across this beauty. Just look at the color! Waiting for this perfect fountain is exactly the reason I’ve been holding off on installing a disappearing fountain!  And, I am happy that it has a little chip in the bottom so it was 40% off.
I knew we wanted to place our fountain directly in the site line from our kitchen. This piece of the plan shows how the fountain is on line with the deck steps. I would never have chosen this location on my own; I am sure I would have tucked the fountain in a corner somewhere, but this is wonderful.  Standing in the kitchen and looking to the backyard the fountain is front and center. Hearing the sound of water when the screen door is open or we are on the back deck is lovely and also drowns out some of the neighborhood noise.
fountain landscape plans

Supplies for installing a disappearing fountain:

Basin– Look at an inexpensive pond liner. This was the second one I bought, exchanging to have a little larger diameter to catch water on windy days. Pond liners are about 1/3 of the price of a special fountain basin and are available in more sizes.
Composite Boards– these boards are wet all the time and the composite will not rot like a regular wood board would over the years.
Grate or Screen– We have a combination of screens here to keep the stones on top. I think grill grates are actually the way to go!  They hold more weight and are inexpensive.
Hose clamps– These are optional but made me feel better about securing the tubing inside the fountain to the pump.
Pump– I would go larger rather than smaller when selecting the right size.
Stones– These Mexican river rocks were re-purposed from our front yard.
installing a disappearing fountain
While I was working on another project but Mike went to town on digging the hole to set the pond liner in (can you sense the enthusiasm?).
installing a disappearing fountain

Steps for installing a disappearing fountain:

– Dig hole. Ideally your liner will be level to just a little bit above the soil line to keep any dirt from washing in during heavy rains.
installing a disappearing fountain
– Set liner in and level to ensure there won’t be a low side. We kept the level on here for the entire installation just to make sure we weren’t getting things off from level.
installing a disappearing fountain
– “Jet in” the soil around the liner. Keep the level on top to monitor shifting. “Jetting in” uses water to remove any air pockets and force the soil down around the entire liner. As the soil settles in we continued to add more to the sides to get it just about to the top of the basin.
installing a disappearing fountain
-We added the largest screen below our composite boards. These two boards will be holding the weight of the fountain and need to extend a little beyond the edges of the liner. Again, we used composite (aka plastic) boards for installing our disappearing fountain to ensure they won’t warp or rot with time.
installing a disappearing fountain
-It the finer screening on top we cut a flap. This is to allow the pump to easily be inserted/removed without having to take off all of the stones and wire.  In the large screen below a permanent opening was cut out and will remain. This flap is right next to the base of the fountain so there isn’t much pressure or weight from the stones.
installing a disappearing fountain
– Setting the fountain on top!  It all starts to come together at this point.  I should point out the piece of 3/4″ pvc going from the fountain to our deck. This pvc is essentially just a sleeve to protect the cord for the fountain. It runs from the base of the fountain to under the lattice on our deck where the outlet is located. This is a preventative measure to make sure I don’t put a shovel through the cord accidentally. The pvc was trenched in about 6″ below the surface, just enough to hide it but also easy to access if needed.
installing a disappearing fountain
– The final step is adding the Mexican River rocks around the base to hide the screening.
installing a disappearing fountain
And drum roll, please…
The moment the fountain is plugged in and water begins to bubble out of the top.
It did take some finagling to get the water to flow evenly on all sides. Even though we used a level throughout, the slightest imbalance caused all of the water to flow only down a single side. The leveling process is certainly a two person job!  We shimmied the fountain with small pieces of mulch to get it level and seems to be working just fine.
installing a disappearing fountain
Installing a disappearing fountain took us about six hours from start to finish. This included two trips to the store to get the wider basin and a hose clamp to hold the tubing tight to the pump. I love the placement directly out the back door and the sound of flowing water is more peaceful than I could have imagined.


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