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Bubbling Brook Fountain

Source: Martha Stewart Living, March 2010


This pretty fountain is easy to construct, but you should be comfortable using a drill. Assemble the manifold (the mechanism of the fountain) one day, and then build the fountain the next. The ball valves let you control the flow so the fountain can be made to bubble or roil and splash, and every level in between.

You can also try our other fountain how-tos:
Gentle-Splash Fountain
Waterfall Fountain

Note: All PVC tools and materials can be found in the plumbing-supplies section of large hardware stores. Use schedule 40 pipe and fittings throughout.


  • Hacksaw

  • 150-grit sandpaper

  • 1 gallon white swimming pool paint (we used Insl-x RP2700;

  • Large paint bucket

  • 1 quart paint colorant (such as Tints-All) in color to match trough (we used black)

  • Paint stirrer

  • 4-inch foam paint roller

  • Fiberglass trough (55 by 16 by 16 inches,; find similar styles at garden centers)

  • Submersible pump (750 gallons per hour; we used the Mag Drive Ultra Pump, No. 98459; (G)

  • Ice pick or awl

  • Drill with multipurpose drill bits (1/8 to 1/2 inch) and 1 1/8-inch spade drill bit (not necessary if trough's drainage hole can accommodate pump plug)

  • Putty knife

  • Waterproof exterior caulk, such as neoprene flash cement

  • Waterproof epoxy putty

  • Two 2-foot sections of 3/4-inch unthreaded PVC pipe (B, D)

  • Three 3-quarter-inch PVC solvent weld ball valves, unthreaded (A)

  • Two 3-quarter-inch, 90-degree PVC elbows, unthreaded (C)

  • 3/4-inch PVC unthreaded cross (E)

  • 3/4-inch PVC female adapter (F)

  • 1 can (4 ounces) plastic pipe cement primer/cleaner for PVC (clear)

  • 1 can (4 ounces) PVC cement (clear)


  1. Use a pencil to mark two 18-inch pieces (B) and four 2-inch (D) pieces on PVC pipe. Cut on lines with hacksaw. Lightly sand ends to remove burrs.

  2. Using above photo as a guide, assemble parts A to F; leave ball valves open. When joining 2 unthreaded ends, prime and glue each with PVC primer and cement, twisting slightly as you join to ensure a good seal. Let all connections dry and set according to cement instructions. You will join the manifold to the pump in step 5.

  3. Pour a quarter of the swimming pool paint into bucket, and mix in paint colorant, small amounts at a time, until desired shade is achieved.

  4. Paint inside of trough and all PVC parts thoroughly so they won't show in the fountain. Then paint ball valves lightly so the tab won't stick. Let dry overnight.

  5. Connect pump (G) attachments so that pump ends on a male connection. Join manifold to pump at female adapter.

  6. Place trough in desired location, making sure that the pump plug will safely reach a nearby ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. If your trough has a drainage hole, feed the cord through it and omit step 7; if not, you will need to drill a hole.

  7. Situate hole in the side of trough so the pump's plug can reach the outlet easily without causing a trip hazard. Mark hole site with pencil, and use ice pick to make a small hole or indentation. Begin drilling with the smallest bit, and continue enlarging the hole with increasingly larger standard bits. Use the spade bit to make the hole large enough to accommodate the 3-prong plug.

  8. Place manifold with pump attached in center of trough. Feed cord through hole. Use putty knife to smooth caulk over hole to seal, working around cord. Secure pump to bottom of trough with putty. Let caulk and putty dry before proceeding. You may wish to paint over the caulked spot.

  9. Fill trough with water to roughly 2 inches below rim, and plug in pump. Use ball valves to regulate flow and sound level.

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