A Crafty Mix


Hand Pump and Drum Water Feature – DIY

I don’t know about you but I love the sound of naturally flowing water. It’s so relaxing and soothing. It calms the soul, doesn’t it? And since we have a spot right outside our kitchen window that was just begging for some kind of soulful intervention 😉 we decided to repurpose an empty drum and make ourselves this drum water feature using the “faux” hand pump we built last week.

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes  #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

And I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Not only can we hear the beautiful sound of trickling water from the kitchen, but it also fills up that space and provides curb appeal at the same time.

A side view of the pump with water flowing nicely through the spout on the drum water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Okay, before we get to the tutorial, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!

What you need to make the drum water feature

  • Small aluminum basin with a lip. A prep bowl is ideal.
  • Submersible water pump
  • Spray paint and primer
  • “Faux” hand water pump
  • Cable gland
  • A large empty drum. A friend of ours gave us this big blue one a while ago and it was originally used to store essential oils. To soak up the oily residue we placed clean kitty litter inside for a day or two and then rinsed it out with water and degreaser. Anyone want some yummy smelling kitty litter 😀

What you need to make a drum water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix


  • Angle Grinder
  • Metal-cutting disc
  • Metal grinding pads
  • Drill and metal drill bit
  • Metal file

How to turn a drum into a water feature

If your drum has been used before, clean it our first. We’ll be cutting a hole in the top of the drum and trust me the spark will fly. Place the prep bowl or basin upside down on the drum and trace around it. Measure the lip of your bowl, ours is 1 cm or 1/2″ wide and use that measurement to draw a second line inside the first one as shown below. This will be the actual cutting line.

Measuring where to cut to fit the old sink in the drum #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Fill the drum with water and use an angle grinder and metal cutting disc to cut along the inside mark. An abrasive metal-cutting disc works well but the disc wears down quickly, so be careful. A diamond blade that’s suitable for cutting ferrous metal is a better option, but we struggled to find one.  

The poor hubby grinding away at the drum to create a hole for the old basin
#cuttingmetal  #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Make sure to wear protective gear. Those sparks really do fly everywhere.

The poor hubby grinding away at the drum to create a hole for the old sink #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Take it slow and steady. LOL, once again the poor hubby is grinding his life away 😀 When you’ve cut all the way around, carefully remove the cutout, and insert the prep bowl or basin to make sure it fits. Just mind those edges, they’re very sharp. Use a metal file to file the sharp bits away.

Measuring where to cut to fit the old sink in the drum #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Our drum was terribly dirty and grimy so we gave it a good wipe down, before using a wire brush to roughen up the exterior.

Getting the drum ready and sanding the old paint for a new coat #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Spray the drum with a primer and paint color of your choice to seal and protect it.

A coat or three of white paint #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Right, that’s the drum all done. Time to turn this baby into a drum water feature and install the pump 😉

Choosing the right pump for your water feature

Outdoor fountain and water feature pumps are generally sized according to flow rate, or circulation, and the pressure needed to push the water up through the pump. Look for the “head” height on the packaging to figure out if the pump is the right size for your water feature. To determine the minimum “head” height, measure the height the water needs to travel up and add roughly 10% of the horizontal distance. So in our case, it’s the height of the drum and 10% of the width of the “faux” hand pump spout. We used a submersible pump in our water feature since they’re pretty quiet and won’t overheat.

Installing the submersible water pump

I would have loved to use a solar-powered pump, but we couldn’t find one with the right “head” height, so we went for the electric one instead. But that meant we had to figure out a way to wire the pump up. The hubby is pretty handy when it comes to doing those kinds of things. If you’re not comfortable changing plugs and wiring things up, it’s best to call an electrician.

To wire the pump up, remove the plug and drill a hole in the side of the drum. The hole should be higher than the water level. Place the water pump inside the drum and pull the cable through the hole. To protect the electrical cord insert a cable gland into the hole first.

Adding the electric cord for the water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Once the cable has been pulled through, reattach the plug.

Connecting the water pump

Since the water needs to travel quite a distance up inside the drum we added a long piece of flexible tubing to the pump’s outlet. To make it easier to slip the tubing onto the outlet, insert one end in some boiling water first before squishing it firmly onto the pump.

Attaching the pipe to the water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Thread the other end of the tubing up through the faux hand water pump. Fill the drum with enough water to cover the pump.

Connecting the pipe for the pump #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Add the prep bowl and it’s ready for a test run 😉

Taking the pump for a test run before moving the drum to her new home #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

OoooooEeeeee, it works!! We put our drum water feature in the front garden and stenciled a big 25 on the drum. That’s our house number just in case you ever want to pop round for a visit 😀 To soften the whole look we planted a whole bunch of iceberg roses in front of the drum.

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes. Great curb appeal and easy to follow tutorial  #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

I love icebergs. They’re such awesome low maintenance roses and they flower for most of the year too.

Close up of the icebergs #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

And looking at the same drum water feature 6 months later, they thrived with the sound of water flowing in the background 😉

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes The poor hubby grinding away at the drum to create a hole for the old sink #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Our serenading frog also found a new home 😉

Even our garden frog enjoys making music at the new water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Isn’t he too cute? And that “faux” hand water pump fits right in.

A side view of the pump with water flowing nicely through the spout on the drum water feature #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

The basin is deep enough to limit the amount of splashback which is always a problem when making a water feature. Too much splashing and we run the risk of burning out our submersible pump. And no-one wants that 😉

Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Click to Tweet

We added a few grey pebbles to change the sound from “running tap” to a burbling brook.

The lovely sound of running water #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

I would love to know what you think? Would you turn an empty drum into a water feature for your garden?

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes Great curb appeal and easy to follow tutorial  #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix
If you like the idea don’t forget to pin it for later.

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes. Great curb appeal and easy to follow tutorial #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix

Sharing is caring 😉

How to turn an empty drum into a unique water feature complete with a faux hand water pump made from PVC pipes #drumwaterfeature #PVChandpump #DIYTutorial #ACraftyMix #DIYWaterFeature #outdoorDIY

More drum water feature ideas

There are many ways of using a drum to make a water feature. If you don’t have a hand pump, turn your drum into a fountain by placing the water pump inside the basin and filling it with rocks and pebbles. For a bigger impact, place a concrete ball on top of the pebbles like Charlotte from Charlotte’s House did here. Or cut the drum in half lengthwise and lay it on its side to make a wildlife pond. Line the drum with pond liner and fill with water lilies and other aquatic plants to create a haven for all those water-loving critters. Not keen to see sparks fly and use a grinder? No problem, get a drum without lid and place a piece of wood over the top to create a base for a handpump.

Or if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY ideas to share with you 😉

Water Fountains Outdoor Wood Barrel with Pump - Large Garden Water Fountain Product SKU: PL50001
Glenville Water Pump Cascading Water Fountain
Sale Parts2O FPHP25 Heavy Duty Pitcher Pump

But if you’d like to make your own here’s a few links that will get you started.

Sale Vogelzang US DR55 55 Gallon Drum for Barrel Camp Stove Kit
Makita GA7021 7' Angle Grinder, with AC/Dc Switch
Homasy 920GPH Submersible Water Pump with 5.9ft (1.8M) Power Cord, 2 Nozzles and 9.8ft High Lift Ultra Quiet Water Pump for Aquarium, Fish Tank, Statuary, Pond, Hydroponics

Until next time, wishing you a beautiful and love-filled week. Thank you for popping in for a visit.

Made with love by a Crafty Mix

Categories:   DIY Tutorials, PVC Hacks, Trash to Treasure

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  • Posted: January 31, 2020 16:52

    Linda at Mixed Kreations

    Yall did an awesome job on your water feature! Turned out so cute! I love the sound of water running in fountains or Brooks. One day I'm going to have me another pond with a water fountain for all my little frogs. 😊
    • Posted: February 1, 2020 05:47


      🤗 Thank you, Linda. There is something very special about water; it calms the soul. I hope you get to make that little pond for your frog soon. I would love to see how it turns out.
  • Posted: January 30, 2020 02:37

    Maria Brittis

    This project is so cool. I love how the numbers stand out now, very very nice for the garden space.
    • Posted: January 30, 2020 10:01


      Thanks so much Maria. I love waking in in the morning and hearing the water running outside while I make coffee and the roses and gauras are thriving in that spot.
  • Posted: January 3, 2020 17:17


  • Posted: January 2, 2020 13:26


    You never know if the project you open up is going to be really goofy or something amazing. I put this in the amazing category. It is a terrific idea & your hand pump looks very good & not cheesy. What puts this over the top for me is the way you are using it with your house number in the design. Way cool!!
    • Posted: January 3, 2020 05:24


      Thank you so very much, Don. The drum water feature has gotten so many lovely comments from our neighbors so I'm guessing it's a winner when it comes to upping our curb appeal 😉
  • Posted: July 1, 2019 23:36


    I love your fountain! I’m thinking about doing one myself, but I’m thinking about doing it with a steel wash bucket and putting in some water lilies in it. Then some wild flowers around the outside.
    • Posted: July 2, 2019 05:12


      Wow Lisa, that sounds so lovely 👌 It's going to create the most amazing eco-system for your garden friends. If you get a chance would you mind sharing a piccy or two. I'd love to see how it turns out.
  • Posted: June 25, 2019 01:23


    Could this be adapted to collect and using rain water?
    • Posted: June 25, 2019 05:23


      THat's a really interesting question Jeanne. I suppose you can. I would cut the whole top of the drum off and mount the hand pump on a piece of wood that sits over the top of the drum. So all the rainwater will collect in the drum. Maybe put a shade cloth over the top so it doesn't fill up with leaves and whotnots that could block the pump.
  • Posted: May 24, 2019 23:39


    This is just the most clever thing ever! You are so creative! My favorite part is those adorable stenciled numbers :)
  • Posted: May 15, 2019 13:44


    Love love love!!!! The black and white and the basin, all are perfect combination! I always love simple clean look like that, and with lots of white color :D I want one!!!!
    • Posted: May 15, 2019 15:06


      😊 Awwwww Mel thank you. The black and white work really well with those beautiful iceberg roses
  • Posted: May 15, 2019 00:27


    Michelle I would love to have something like this outside the house. The sound of the running water is so tranquil and relaxing after a hard day at work. I bet the frog must be very happy with it. Me. I would love it but I'm afraid I'd be running to the bathroom all day. Haha!
    • Posted: May 15, 2019 04:26


      😃 I hear you Mary. If it was outside our bedroom window I might be up all hours of the night running to the loo 😃
  • Posted: May 12, 2019 13:39


    Dis verskriklik mooi. Baie dankie
    • Posted: May 14, 2019 07:08


      Dis 'n plesier. Dankie vir die kuier
  • Posted: May 12, 2019 13:36


    I love this idea. We have an empty drum in the backyard, no idea how long its been there or what was inside. Do you know/think we can still use it to make something similar?
    • Posted: May 14, 2019 07:15


      I'm sure you could Ronnie. I would clean the drum out using bicarbonate to absorb any strange residue and give it a good wash with a degreaser. Oven cleaner works really well. You can also line the inside of your drum with pond liner if you're really worried.
  • Posted: May 10, 2019 18:47


    What a fabulous idea, I love the look of your fountain. The amount of rain we get here in the UK, I don't think I really need another water feature (lol).
    • Posted: May 11, 2019 05:05


      😃 That's the one thing we never have enough of here in South Africa; rain.
  • Posted: May 8, 2019 16:32

    Christina Makri

    This is a whole construction but it is such a clever idea! It is perfect for gardens and I think that your garden would be the perfect place to chill out!
    • Posted: May 9, 2019 11:41


      Thanks so much, Christina, we love chilling in our garden and now hearing the water from our kitchen means we get to bring a little bit of nature inside 😉
  • Posted: May 8, 2019 06:37


    Pretty darn impressive. Such a great talking point and when those roses fill out a little it's going to be stunning. They're my favourite roses too 😉
    • Posted: May 8, 2019 06:42


      Thanks so much Melissa. I can't wait for the roses to get a little bigger so their scent can waft through the kitchen window too
  • Posted: May 8, 2019 05:12


    This is the coolest water fountain Michelle! I don't think I'd ever be able to pull it off, but I'd definitely love a water feature in our garden too. Your garden must be such a wonderland between the fairies and all your amazing creations!
    • Posted: May 8, 2019 06:36


      I'm so happy you like it Katrin. It literally took us a weekend to do and the hubby did all the hard work on the drum while I got to play with PVC pipes and make the hand pump 😉 Lucky me.

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