It all started with a clearance urn and base.
I turned to my husband, who was standing next to me with that vague, glassy-eyed look of boredom that he always wears whenever I drag him into the garden center. "You know that would make a great fountain! And look its only $50!"
To be honest, my husband could care less whether our garden had a fountain or not, but he is a good sport, who is always willing to take on a project if it will make me happy. I had been hunting for a fountain for a long time and never had seen one that I both liked and could afford. Here were the makings of the fountain of my dreams and even better, they were on sale!
So, we bought the urn and base that fall, but did not get to the project until the following spring (last year).
After twenty-five years of togetherness, we have pretty much mapped out a working method for DIY projects. I am the "creative visionary". In other words, I come up with the wacky plan.
My husband does the practical stuff- he is the true genius that figures out how to turn my vision into reality. This is not to say it all runs smoothly! Sometimes my ideas clash with simple practicality and other times his working methods don't meet the demands of my aesthetics.
To put it plainly, more often than not, we argue our way through the project "development". The arguments are different than outright fighting though. We simply argue back and forth, until the workings of the project are insinc with my original idea.
Here is how we turned the urn into a fountain.
1. In addition to the urn and base, we purchased a decorative bud to create a water spout. We also had to purchase a concrete stand to raise the bud up out of the urn. (Total cost: Around $50)
2.The inside of the concrete urn was not waterproof, so we bought a concrete sealer at a big box store. (Cost : $25) It took several coats to finish the urn, decorative bud and base.
3. Next, we bought an inexpensive 3' x 3' child's plastic sandbox to make a reservoir for the water.
4. In the center of the sandbox/reservoir, we made a support for the weight of the concrete urn by adding two concrete building blocks (those we had on hand).
5. We filled the reservoir with water and submerged the 500 gph pump into the water. (Pump cost: $150) To the pump we attached a length of plastic pipe. (Cost $15)
6. Then, we laid two heavy metal screens (again, from a big box store) over the filled reservoir. (That's another $30) We pulled the end of the plastic pipe up through a hole in the metal screen.
7. The urn's base was placed in the center of the metal screens.
8. The plastic pipe was then pulled up through the hollow urn base. From there, the pipe was fed up through urn and the bud's concrete support stand. Finally, the pipe was feed up through to the top of the bud. A small metal spigot was placed at the end of the pipe.
9. We disguised the metal screen with a covering of river rock and to placed a border of grey bricks to keep the rocks in place (No cost here. All were on hand.)
10. The only thing left to do then was to turn on the pump.
The water flows out of the bud, off the edge of the urn and back down into the reservoir.
Now, even if you are not a math whiz, you probably have calculated that my bargain fountain hasn't proved to be all that inexpensive. In fact, it turned into a pricy undertaking. The original $50 urn and base made a great fountain, but it was not exactly the great bargain I was hoping for.
Still, it looks pretty in the little courtyard as you enter the back garden. The pleasant and relaxing sound of flowing water are wonderfully soothing. Wildlife likes it too. I found this little toad enjoying the coolness of the fountain on one hot, sunny day last summer.
In the end, this is a cautionary tale: DYI projects can end up costing way more than you think they will.