A water fountain makes an excellent addition to a rock garden, adding movement and pleasing sounds for you, and a water source for visiting birds and butterflies. Choose a sunny location for the fountain, away from low-hanging tree branches because butterflies need the warmth of the sun and birds will have more escape routes out in the open. Create the fountain body from your choice of materials, including shallow bowls, ceramic pottery or stacked stones. The pump moves water up and over the fountain body. The water collects in the basin below ground and the pump recirculates it.
Purchase a water pump from a home improvement store, garden center or an online supply. Pumps are rated in terms of how much water they circulate in an hour. Select a pump with a flow rate between 130 and 250 gallons per hour.
Select a watertight basin to hold the pump. Do not worry about the appearance of this basin because you will bury it underground. Look around the house for something suitable. A basin at least 7 inches deep and 26 inches wide will work. Choose a deeper basin to reduce the frequency of water refills.
Dig a hole 2 inches deeper than your basin. Shovel in 2 inches of sand or drainage gravel. Level the sand or gravel. Place the basin on top of the sand or gravel. Check that the basin is level. Create a shallow trench where the electrical cord can run from the pump to an electrical outlet. Cut a piece of PVC pipe the length of the trench.
Place the hardware cloth or screening material over the basin. Cut a hole in the screen large enough to reach your hand through and adjust the pump. Cut only three sides of the hole and leave the fourth side intact to make a flap for convenience. Alternatively, rest the portion of the screen you cut away at an angle over the opening.
Cut a length of copper pipe 2 feet longer than your fountain's height. Connect the pump and the copper pipe together with a 5/8-inch plastic tube and compression couplings. Place the pump into the basin with the copper tube facing up. Thread the electrical cord through the PVC piping. Fill the trench with the PVC pipe with dirt and gravel. Add 2 inches of gravel to the basin. Slide the screen over the pump and the basin. Test that you can reach the pump through the cutout.
Cut sections of decking boards long enough to span the width of the hole to support the weight of the fountain body. Fit your fountain body over the copper pipe.
Fill the basin with water. Cover the planks and screen with rocks. Pay particular attention to the edges and blend the gravel in with the surrounding soil. Try to create a setting that fits in naturally with your rock garden design.