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How To Install A Disappearing Water Feature

Disappearing Water Feature

Disappearing water features can be created from almost anything. A glazed ceramic pot makes a good one, as does a large rock or a piece of granite. A disappearing fountain or bubbling rock makes a wonderful addition to your patio or garden or as a feature in your front entry. Be as creative as you want as you design a disappearing water feature to enhance your backyard this season.

Things you will need to install a disappearing water feature:

Choosing the right fountain basin

Although you may be tempted to choose a small fountain basin to save space, here are some thoughts to consider. A larger fountain basin means less need for refilling. Tall pieces need a bigger fountain basin to allow for splash. You may want to add additional decorative items at a later date. Greater flow creates more of the soothing sounds of water.

Installing the fountain basin
Using the fountain basin as a guide, dig a hole* approximately 1″ deeper than the height of the basin and fill with 1″ of sand. Since it’s important that your water feature sets level, spend a little time making sure the bottom of the hole is as level as you can get it. The sand will help once you place the fountain basin in place.



Place the fountain basin in the hole and using a carpenter’s level, ensure it is level in all directions.

Back fill with soil around the fountain basin and tamp it in firmly.




Cut a trap door into the top grate, if one is not present already. The hole will be covered with the mesh and river gravel when you’ve completed the fountain. Some fountain basins are one solid piece and have a trap door already built in. This type of fountain basin does not require concrete blocks. Skip to the “Installing a vase” or Installing a bubbling rock” sections if you are using one of these fountain basins.

Place concrete blocks in the fountain basin. The grate and basin are designed to a concrete block is just the right height. The number of blocks will depend on the size of the fountain basin being used. The larger the fountain basin, the more blocks you will need for support. If the grate is in two pieces, ensure blocks are under the split. Make certain blocks are under the decorative item you plan to use. Depending on the size, it may be very heavy once filled with water (such as a vase or pot). Light pieces may have to set directly on the bottom or on a block. This may mean you have to cut away a portion of the grate.

Place the plastic mesh over the grating and cut a hole for the tubing. Thread the tubing through this hole and out the trap door.

Installing a vase
Install the bulkhead fitting in the pot or vase so the tubing and the standpipe can be connected.




Install the barb fitting in the bulk head. Connect the tubing to the fitting and tighten with a hose clamp.






Pots that hold a large volume of water will need a check valve or standpipe inside to prevent too much water from flowing out when the pump is turned off. The standpipe also provides the plume of water at the top or allows for a diffuser to keep the splash down.





Place vase or pot onto the heavy grate making sure it is on a block. Handling large pots can be a two-man job. Once the pot is in place, level it using shims or small pieces of stone. 





Installing a bubbling rock
Place the tubing in the hole at the bottom of the rock and either wrap with duct tape or use black waterfall foam or silicone sealant to hold and seal the tubing in place.

Installing the pump
Screw the reducer bushing to the pump and the Ball Valve to the Reducer Bushing. Screw the 1″ MPT x 1 1/4″ barb fitting onto the ball valve, push the tubing onto the barbed end and tighten with a hose clamp. Place the pump in the fountain basin and run the pump cord** through the trapdoor.

Place the heavy grate piece you cut out earlier for your trapdoor back on the grate and cover with the plastic mesh. The trapdoor is supported by the ledge around the edge and the concrete block you placed under it earlier. Cover the mesh with river gravel or other decorative gravel.

Add water, turn on the pump, sit back and enjoy your new water feature.

* Before digging, check for buried utility lines.

** Most pumps have an 18″ cord. A licensed electrician should be used for any needed electrical work.



  1. Fountain Basin – Hold water for the water feature.
  2. 1″ Tubing – Runs from the pump to the decorative item.
  3. 950 – 1000 gph pump – pushes water from the fountain basin out of the decorative item.
  4. Concrete Block – Holds the weight of the decorative item so the heavy grate doesn’t break.
  5. Heavy Grate – Creates a flat surface to set decorative items on.
  6. Plastic Mesh – Prevents river gravel from falling into the fountain basin.
  7. Standpipe – Provides a plume of water at the top of vase and prevents water from draining completely out of vase. Bubbling rocks do not need this.
  8. Decorative Item – Could be a large vase, pot, bubbling rock or any other decorative item that water can come out of.
  9. Plume – Small fountain that’s powered by the pump.
  10. Decorative Gravel – Any small gravel that covers the heavy grate. Should be large enough not to fall through the plastic mesh.