DIY Outdoor Water Wall

Here in Northern Alberta, the winters are long and the summers short. In 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 to the back burner was adding a large water feature.

After a lot of sourcing, we figured if we were ever going to have a water feature that met our small budget, we would have to build it ourselves. After a lot of deliberation, Mr. Frugalista and I came up with an idea we were both happy with. Pen and paper in hand, we drew out the plans for our DIY Outdoor Water Wall with a maximum budget of $300 in mind.

DIY Outdoor Water Wall for under $300

DIY Outdoor Water Wall


The original plan was to use a sheet of 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 supplies we used to build our water wall, minus the two plastic flower planters on the right. I've included a supply and tool list towards the bottom of this post.

DIY Outdoor Water Wall Supplies

Our water wall used to be situated on a stone patio adjacent to our gazebo. While it looked lovely flanked by matching cedar planters, the soft trickle of the water could only be faintly heard from our deck.

DIY Patio Water Wall

Where could I place an outdoor water wall?

Some ideas for placement of an outdoor water wall would be on a stone patio, much like ours in the photo above, on a back yard deck as a privacy screen, a porch, or even an apartment balcony. For the latter, of course, you'd have to check with your condo board and make sure your balcony is rated for the weight.

Water Wall Dimensions

Important: The size of the water wall is determined by the size of the tempered glass panels you use. We purposely did not include the dimensions of our tempered glass for this reason. Tempered glass is expensive and if you plan on building this in a budget-friendly fashion like we did, you will need to search local salvaged yards or places like Habitat ReStore for salvaged tempered glass. DO NOT use regular glass.

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

Instructions for building a DIY Water Wall

Before we share how the water wall was made I should mention that we are self-taught DIYers and not trained professionals. We built this water wall for our own personal use. This step-by-step tutorial is based on our building knowledge only. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer like us, you'll find these steps helpful if you plan on making a version of our DIY Water Wall.

Also, we need to talk about safety...


Step 1 - Base Construction

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

DIY Water Wall Base Frame

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.

What we'd do differently

Had we to do it again, instead of building a separate water trough box we would simply line the inside of the base (pictured above) with plywood.

DIY Water Wall Water Trough

Step 3 - Base Assembly

You can skip this step if you incorporate our suggestion in the previous step.

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.

DIY Water Wall Base Assembly

Step 4 - Glass Support Installation

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

You can see in the photo below that the pond pump fits nicely between the glass and the sidewall. Please note, this is NOT the step where you install the pump.

DIY Water Wall Glass Supports

Step 5 - Water Trough Liner

Line the water trough with pond liner and attach it to the top ONLY with staples. At this point add water and test to ensure there are no leaks.

DIY Water Wall Trough Liner

Step 6 - Water Wall Uprights

Attach 1" x 6" x 60" pressure treated deck boards on the outer center of each side of the base which becomes the uprights of the water wall.

Strap each side of the upright on the base with two pieces of a scrap deck board to make the sides flush for wrapping tongue & groove around the base in the next step.

DIY Water Wall Uprights

Step 7 - Finish Base Exterior

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

DIY Water Wall Cedar Wrapped Base

Step 8 - Base Trim

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

DIY Water Wall Base Trim

Step 9 - Conceal 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.

DIY Water Wall Concealed Electrical Cord

Step 10 - Tempered Glass Installation

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 backside of your mark.
  • Place the glass between the grooves in 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.

DIY Water Wall Plastic Tubing

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-inch 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 - Conceal Water Tubes

Once satisfied with the water flow, conceal the tubing by boxing in around the uprights with cedar fence boards (as pictured below).

DIY Water Wall Concealed Tubing Trim

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. 
  • Note: If you prefer a louder sounding water wall, skip the previous two points and let the trickling water hit directly onto the water in the trough. 
  • Fill the trough with water.
  • Plugin the water wall and the pump will prime for a few seconds before the water starts trickling down the glass. Don't be alarmed by the sound.

How often do I have to add water to the water wall? 

It's important that you check the water level on a regular basis for water evaporation. Depending on how often you use it and the weather conditions, it may need to be filled more often. We use ours only when we are outside and fill it about once a week. If you live in a hot climate and use your water wall every day, you most likely will have to top it off daily.

DIY Water Wall Feature

We choose a very soft trickle with smaller holes for a relaxing sound as the water hits the rocks below (pictured below).

DIY Water Wall Trickling Water Flow

Water wall illuminated with solar lights

At night the deck 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 underneath. The solar panel is situated in our flower garden where it gets lots of sunshine throughout the day.

DIY Water Wall Solar Spot Lights

The spotlights are pointing upwards towards the glass. It's hard to see in the photo below, taken at dusk, but the entire glass is illuminated on the water wall.

DIY Water Wall Illuminated

As promised, I've included both a supply and materials list below. These lists contain affiliate links so you can see what products we used or recommend to complete this project. I may receive a small portion of any sales at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure policy page.

Tool List


Supply List


Pond Pump

Check the rating on the Pond Pump to ensure that it will carry the water to the desired height. Example; if your wall is 5-feet high, the pump needs to be rated for a minimum 60-inch 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 store indoors during the winter in colder below freezing climates.
  • Ours was purchased at Home Depot and is made by Angelo Decor, Model No. TPD-300H.

Pond Liner

Pond Liner - small sheet approximately 5' x 5'

Tempered Glass

As mentioned at the top of this post, the size of the water wall is determined by the size of the glass.

Important:

For safety, the glass MUST be tempered glass.

Plastic Tubing

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


DIY Water Wall Deck Privacy Screen

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



DIY Outdoor Water Wall

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 also made a Solar Powered Plant Pot Fountain option that can be made in less than 15 minutes.

If you have any questions about this project, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

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30 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.

      Delete
  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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  9. I love it! I'm sure my husband will never think we need one of these, but I saved it...just in case!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha, Cherryl. No one NEEDS a water wall but it sure is nice when you have one. LOL We love the sound of the trickling water when we relax on the deck.

      Delete
  10. This is really beautiful Marie! I really want to make this!! You did such a wonderful job on yours! Pinned!

    Hugs,

    Tee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Tee, I'm glad you like it! I hope you find the perfect piece of tempered glass to make one for your outdoor living space. I know with your mad DIY skills, it'll be beautiful!

      Delete
  11. I love this and need one for my backyard :) Thank you for sharing with To Grandma's House We Go, I'll be featuring you next week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like our water wall, Chas and thank you so much for the feature! xo

      Delete
  12. Wow! That is beautiful. I bet it's a wonderful addition to the patio.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! We absolutely love the sound of the trickling water when relaxing on the deck.

      Delete
  13. Whenever you run out of room to show off your creations you are welcome to bring them to my home. I will even feed you! Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL Marilyn, I know you can cook up a storm so it's tempting!

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  14. You are amazing... that is all. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL You are so sweet, I'm glad you like the water wall Julie!

      Delete
  15. Hello
    Marie
    I have been thinking for a while about a water wall, and I want to make it big 1800x1800 with clear glass,
    but now maybe a strange question do you let the water flow against the front or the back of the glass?
    thanks in advance and keep it up ������������

    Jurgen

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Jurgen, the preference is all yours whether the water flows on the front or back of the glass. My suggestion would be to have it flow on the side that is seen most, like a conversation area like ours. Also, if you plan on using clear glass, be sure that it is tempered glass for safety. Hope this helps and have fun building your water wall!

    ReplyDelete

I always enjoy hearing from you so please don't be shy! I read and reply to every single comment.