Hand Pump and Drum Water Feature – DIY
I don’t know about you but I love the sound of 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.
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.
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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. 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 😀
- 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 out 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.
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.
Make sure to wear protective gear. Those sparks really do fly everywhere.
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.
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.
Spray the drum with a primer and paint color of your choice to seal and protect it.
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.
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.
Thread the other end of the tubing up through the faux hand water pump. Fill the drum with enough water to cover the pump.
Add the prep bowl and it’s ready for a test run 😉
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.
I love icebergs. They’re such awesome low-maintenance roses and they flower for most of the year too.
And looking at the same drum water feature 6 months later, they thrived with the sound of water flowing in the background 😉
Our serenading frog also found a new home 😉
Isn’t he too cute? And that “faux” hand water pump fits right in.
The basin is deep enough to limit the amount of splashback. 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
We added a few grey pebbles to change the sound from “running tap” to a burbling brook.
I would love to know what you think? Would you turn an empty drum into a water feature for your garden?
If you like the idea of turning an empty drum into a water feature don’t forget to pin it for later.
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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 it 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 a lid and place a piece of wood over the top to create a base for a handpump. You can also use a CD Spindle to make this beautiful tabletop water feature.
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 😉
But if you’d like to make your own here are a few links that will get you started.
Until next time, wishing you a beautiful and love-filled week. Thank you for popping in for a visit.
34 thoughts on “Hand Pump and Drum Water Feature – DIY”
You know how much I adore homemade water features. What a great idea for an amazingly unique house number sign! I bet people walking by stop to take a listen, get a closer look, and take photos of this.
😀 I’m not sure if anyone’s taken photos but people have asked where we bought the pump and are a little taken aback when we tell them it’s plumbing pipes 😀
Thank you, Cheryl.
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. ?
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.
This project is so cool. I love how the numbers stand out now, very very nice for the garden space.
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.
Thank you ?
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!!
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 ?
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.
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.
Could this be adapted to collect and using rain water?
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.
This is just the most clever thing ever! You are so creative! My favorite part is those adorable stenciled numbers 🙂
Thanks so much Tiffany ?
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 😀 I want one!!!!
? Awwwww Mel thank you. The black and white work really well with those beautiful iceberg roses
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!
? I hear you Mary. If it was outside our bedroom window I might be up all hours of the night running to the loo ?
Dis verskriklik mooi. Baie dankie
Dis ‘n plesier. Dankie vir die kuier
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?
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.
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).
? That’s the one thing we never have enough of here in South Africa; rain.
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!
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 ?
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 ?
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
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!
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.