DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Here in Northern Alberta, the winters are long and the summers short. In the Spring, once the last threat of frost is over, we pretty much live in our backyard. Every Summer we always have one or two projects lined up to improve our outdoor living space.

One of the projects that kept getting pushed back was adding a large water feature in our backyard. Everything we looked at was always way over our budget. Finally, we decided if we're ever going to have a water feature, we would have to build it ourselves.

Mr. Frugalista and I went back and forth argued for weeks before coming up with an idea we were both happy with. Pen and paper in hand, we drew out plans for our DIY Patio Water Wall with a maximum budget of $300.

DIY Outdoor Water Wall for under $300

DIY Outdoor Water Wall


The original plan was to use a sheet of metal (preferably copper) for the water to trickle down. In the meantime, Mr. Frugalista found two wide reed tempered glass panels at a local salvage yard for only $15.00 each and the game plan for our water wall quickly changed.

Pictured below are most of the materials we used to build our water wall, minus the two plastic rectangular flower planters on the right. I've included a Materials and Tools List at the bottom of this post.

Materials For DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Before moving our water wall onto the deck, it originally sat on our stone patio adjacent to the gazebo. While it looked lovely flanked by matching cedar planters, the soft trickle of the water could only be faintly heard from our deck.

How to build a DIY Patio Water Wall

Dimensions

Note:  The size of the water wall is determined by the size of the tempered glass panels you use.

Water Wall: 60" high x 52" wide
Base Only: 12" deep x 18" wide x 52" long

So here's how we did it...


Step 1: Base Construction

Build the frame for the base with 2" x 2" lumber as pictured below.

Building base for DIY Outdoor Wall

Step 2: Water Trough Construction

Build a plywood box to fit inside the frame. This will house the pond pump, secure the glass to the base, and hold the water.

NOTE: Had we to do it again we would simply line the inside of the frame with plywood rather than build a separate box.

Building water trough for DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Step 3: Base Assembly 

Insert the box into the frame of the base. You can see it is raised from the bottom and supported by 2" x 2" lumber. Why? So the trough is shallower than the base to hold less water.

Water Trough Inserted Into Base Of DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Step 4: Glass Support Installation

Attach wood slats to the bottom of the trough to secure the tempered glass panels in the base.

NOTE: You can see the pond pump fits nicely between the glass and the side wall (this is not the step where you install the pump).

Slats for tempered glass on DIY Outdoor Water

Step 5: Lining The Water Trough

Line the water trough with pond liner and attached on the top only with staples. At this point add water and test to ensure there are no leaks.

Lining water trough with pond liner on DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Step 6: Adding The Uprights

Attach 1" x 6" x 60" pressure treated deck boards on the outer center of each side of the base for the uprights of the water wall. Add two pieces of scrap deck board on each side of the upright to make the ends flush when installing cedar tongue & groove to finish the outside.

Attaching uprights to the base of DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Step 7: Wrapping The Base

Using a pneumatic nail gun, install cedar tongue and groove closet liner around the exterior of the base.

Finishing the exterior of the base of the DIY Water Wall with cedar

Step 8: Trim The Base

Trim the base with ripped cedar fence boards and 1" x 1" wood slats.

Installing tempered glass on DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Step 9: Conceal The Pump

On the back of the base, on the side where the pump will be installed, cut a short piece of trim that will be screwed from the top. This will allow for the cord to be concealed underneath.

Concealing the electrical cord of the DIY Outdoor Water Wall

    Step 10: Tempered Glass Installation

    NOTE: Installing the tempered glass is a two-person job.
    • Mark the center of the uprights at the top.
    • Secure one 2" x 2" on the back side of your mark.
    • Place the glass in the groove of the base and rest the top of the glass on the 2" x 2" you just installed.
    • Secure the front 2" x 2" to hold the glass in place.
    Attach flexible tubing for water flow on DIY Outdoor Water Wall

    Step 11: Water Tube Installation

    • Place the pond pump on the bottom of the water trough
    • Attach the flexible plastic tubing with couplings and clamps inside the center of the upright.
    • Attach an elbow at the top.
    • Using a 3/16" drill bit make holes in the top piece spaced about 1" apart. The size of the holes determines the strength of the water flow.
    • Important: Drill the holes on the side of the tubing that rests taut against the glass to ensure the water trickles down the glass.
    • Start with small holes and submerge the pump in a pail of water to test the flow. Increase the size of the holes in increments until you have the flow you desire.
    • Fill the end of the tube with silicone to seal it off.
    • Use screws and large washers to hold the tubing in place into the top 2" x 2".

    Step 12: Concealing Water Tubes

    Once satisfied with the water flow, conceal the tubing by boxing in around the uprights with cedar fence boards.
    Trim top of DIY Outdoor Water Wall with cedar

    Step 13: Finishing Touches

    • Last but not least apply two coats of stain. We used Behr semi-transparent in Sagebrush Green to match our cedar flower planters.
    • Add paving stones to the bottom of the trough, being careful not to rip the pond liner. Or you could use lightweight pool noodles. 
    • Fill the rest of the cavity with river rock. The previous step simply helps decrease the amount of river rock you'll need.
    • Fill the trough with water.
    • Plug in the water wall and the pump will prime for a few seconds before the water starts trickling down the glass.
    Sagebrush Green stained DIY Outdoor Water Wall

    We choose a very soft trickle (smaller holes) and it makes such a relaxing sound as the water hits the rocks below (pictured below).

    Water trickling down DIY Outdoor Water Wall glass

    At night the patio water wall is backlit with a trio of spotlights (pictured below). Holes were drilled into the trim to hold the base of each light and the wires are concealed under the trim. The solar panel is in our flower garden where it gets loads of sunshine throughout the day.

    DIY Water Wall backlit with solar spotlights

    This is the Water Wall illuminated at dusk...

    DIY Water Wall illuminated at dusk with solar spotlights

    ...and after dark.

    DIY Water Wall backlit after dark with solar spotlights

    As promised, I've included both a Tool and Materials List below. 

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend to complete this project. What that means is that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small portion of any sales at no additional cost to you to support the costs of running this site. See my disclosure policy page.

    Tool List


    Materials List

    Pond Pump 
    • Check the rating on the pump to ensure that it will carry the water to the desired height. Example; if your wall is 5' high, the pump needs to be rated for a minimum 60" of water lift.
    • The pump needs to fit between the wall of the water trough and the glass.
    • It is ideal to purchase a pump where the motor and value portion come apart. This will make it easier to remove the motor to bring inside during the winter in colder below freezing climates like ours.
    • Ours was purchased at Home Depot and is made by Angelo Decor, Model No. TPD-300H.

    Pond Liner - small sheet approximately 5' x 5'


    Tempered Glass
    The size of the water wall is determined by the glass you use. Important: Must be Tempered Glass for safety.


    Flexible Plastic Tubing or Copper Tubing 
    • Approximately 10 feet (could use copper tubing if you're handy with soldering)
    • Related connectors: 4 elbows and approximately 12 clamps

    Lumber
    • 2" x 2" x 8' (approximately 12 pieces)
    • 1/4" or 3/8" plywood to build water trough (approximately 4' x 4' sheet)
    • 1" x 6" x 8' pressure treated lumber (2 pieces)
    • 1" x 6" x 8' cedar fence boards (approximately 14 pieces)
    • 1 pkg of tongue and groove cedar closet liner 
    • 2 pieces of scrap lumber (to hold the glass inside the water trough)

    Other Materials

    If you would like to receive a convenient Materials Shopping List which includes a QR Code to access photos of the Water Wall while shopping, sign up below...

    Now let's talk a little bit about safety...


    DIY Outdoor Water Wall For Under $300
    If building a large water feature is not an option, we also turned a trio of plant pots into a Plant Pot Water Fountain. We made a solar-powered option that can be made in less than 15 minutes here in our Solar Powered Plant Pot Fountain post.

    For those cool Summer evenings, we built an Adirondack Fire Bowl Table in the center of our conversation area adjacent to the water wall on the deck.

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    14 comments

    1. Like your idea. How is the sound of water heard?
      Is it falling on the rocks?
      How can u filter or make the sound louder?
      Thanks,
      Ata

      ReplyDelete
    2. Love your project.
      I also found the glass I wanted at Habitat for Humanity.
      How loud is the water?
      How do u make it softer or louder?
      What is the best pump to use if it is over 6' tall?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Glad to hear you found the tempered glass at Habitat ReStore, you probably saved a lot of money! Yes, you can hear the soft trickles of the water running down the glass and as it hits the rocks below. I share how to adjust the flow (which affects the sound) in Step 11 of the tutorial above. As for the best pump to use, check the rating on the pump to ensure that it will carry the water to the desired height. If your wall is 6' high, the pump needs to be rated for a minimum 72" water lift. I hope this helps!

        Delete
      2. I am excited to try this project. I just got my glass from Habitat ReStore. A great find
        at $32.00.

        Delete
    3. Hello, this project says it is a $300 budget, where did you get your tempered glass?? I can't find it for a good price.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. We purchased the tempered glass at a local salvage yard for $15 per panel. Tempered glass is expensive so I urge you to visit your local Habitat ReStore or architectural salvage yards. Sometimes you'll find custom tempered glass panels that were incorrectly sized or shower doors.

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    4. There is no way this is a $300 project, cedar board alone are $258 without tax.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Sorry to disappoint but the total came to just pennies shy of $300, including tax! Our biggest savings was the tempered glass found at a salvage yard for $15. This project was posted on the blog in 2014.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Hi..
      Question..could you use plexiglass bra. Temperedglaas?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. You could but my concern is whether the plexiglass will eventually get permanent staining from the water flow. Tempered glass is easy to keep clean and will not permanently stain. I hope that helps!

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    7. You explain tempered glass is easy to clean, so I was wondering how do keep it clean. My concern would be algae growing in the water that would eventually stain the glass green. Do you use an algecide in the water catch basin?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. We don't add algecide to the water catch basin. We do regular glass cleaning when it looks to be dirty by spraying the glass with a garden hose and wiping it with a clean rag. Sometimes we'll use a magic sponge and water. We've never had a problem with algae build up.

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    8. What were the dimensions of the tempered glass you used? I can't seem to find it here.

      Thanks

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. I didn't include the dimensions of the glass purposely because the water wall should be built according to the size of tempered glass you find. Ours were salvaged custom size panels that would be difficult to find and we suggest trying to find one piece of glass rather than two, like ours. Base the dimensions of your water wall on the glass panel you can find.

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