How to Turn your Favourite Pot into a Water Feature

Find a pot or planter you love and create a water feature or pot pond to add an extra dimension to your outdoor space.

Step 1 – Install the Sump

Many of our water features have integrated water collection reservoirs. However, if you see a pot you love, it is possible to convert it into a water feature or set it up as a pond. To convert to a water feature you will need to install a sump – a container that acts as a water reservoir from which water can be pumped into your pot and return to be recycled. There are a number of plastic options available in a range of sizes. A sump is generally dug into the ground and hidden. A metal or rigid plastic grate is placed over top which supports the pot and allows water entry. A good way to hide the sump is to cover the grate with river stones.

Step 2 – Prepare your Pot

Drill a hole in the base of the pot and install a pipe that allows water to flow up from the pump into the pot. A rigid pipe works best and 19mm copper pipe is a good option if the pipe is able to be seen. The hole can be made watertight with mortar mix or silicone sealant. Once this is dry, paint the inside of the pot with a water-proofing product such as a black bitumen paint in accordance with the manufacturer’s specification. Two coats are recommended. The pipe can then be joined to the pump outlet by a piece of flexible hose.

For larger pots a trick to reduce the sump size and the area of pot that needs to be waterproofed is to create a false bottom inside the pot by filling the lower half of the pot with a lightweight product such as sand and using a mortar mix (can be purchased from your local hardware store). It is important that this is deep enough to store enough water to reduce the need for re-filling due to water loss from evaporation.

For pots or planters used as water gardens all that is required is water proofing the inside.

Step 3 – Choose your Pump

It’s important to choose the correct pump rating. The pump must have enough power to raise the water to the top of your pot from the sump with sufficient flow to create the desired water effect. For most applications we recommend low voltage pumps due to the low safety risk. Pumps typically come with a 5-10 metre long cable but if the power supply is further away it is easy to cut, extend and join a low voltage cable using waterproof joiners. Pump installation for a mains 240V pump must be completed by a registered electrician.

Step 4 – Set up Your Pot

Once the sump is installed, position the pot on the grate and check it is level vertically and horizontally so that the water cascades evenly over the side of the pot. Fill the sump with water, turn on and ENJOY the magical qualities of sound and movement that running water adds to your garden or courtyard.

For pot ponds, plants can be planted in smaller pots and placed inside the water garden pot. Cheap terraccotta pots (go to your local garden centre) are a good option. Set the planted pot(s) up on bricks or paving blocks to adjust the height oso it is covered by the right amount of water.

Step 5 – Maintain

I recommend adding a water purifying tablet in the water reservoir or pot every 2-3 months. These will help prevent development of algae during warm weather and there are fish-friendly options are available.

Sumps and pot ponds will require water top-up in hot weather conditions due to water loss from evaporation. Pot ponds can be emptied and cleaned periodically to keep the water fresh and clean.