Concrete & Hypertufa Leaf Fountain Making Tips

A Reader Asks Construction Questions About A
Decorative Cast Leaf Fountain

I received an email from Jan R. asking me:

Hi there, I want to make a hypertufa leaf or concrete leaf fountain. After the leaves are made how would I form the fountain and to what? Got any ideas? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Jan

My reply:

Hi Jan:
Thank you for contacting me about making a concrete or hypertufa leaf fountain, which is a fun project to do. The answer to your questions will be rather difficult ones to answer at this point, as you’ve not told me how the leaves are to catch and/or collect the water; how many levels you want; or what sort of base you want the fountain to set on, to name a few.

On a side note, you also need to think about the final placement of your leaf fountain … as example, will you make some sort of an elevated base to hold up the leaves, or is the bottom-most leaf to sit on the ground? Are you going to nestle this fountain amongst the plants in your garden, or do you want it to be a real focal point, etc?

Make sure you read through the ins and outs of working with hypertufa and concrete for leaves. Here are a couple of articles on my website that will be of help: Leaf Casting with Hypertufa: Tips for Success, and Concrete Leaf Casting: Super Tips From the Pro’s.

There are many variables I’d have to know in order to walk you through this, but basically here is what I believe will help you think this project through:

  • Most crafters make two or three leaves set in a tiered fashion, and at angles to each other, which allows the water to spill over the edge(s) and finally collect in the bottom leaf.
  • Joining all the pieces can be accomplished by mixing up a fresh batch of your recipe with bonding agent included in it and some bonding agent also painted onto the areas of where everything will be joined for good measure. (You would have to wait until the leaves were cured enough to be handled before you start joining them.)
  • You need to seal the concrete or hypertufa leaves with a water-proofing sealant.
  • You need to know how to install a simple pump in order to get the water flowing back up to the top-most leaf; you also need to get a pump that has the right GPH rating to effectively keep the water flowing.
  • Another consideration – WHERE are you going to hide the pump and cords? Inside the base, or …? I wouldn’t think you want the pump and connections visible.
  • You will need a GFI electrical connection available to plug in the motor for the pump. **There’s no side-stepping this requirement – water + electricity do NOT mix!

To learn about GPH and GFI, read this article on my website. Skim about half-way down: Garden Spitters Installation: GPH & GFI Considerations.

This is as specific as I can be for you at this time as I’ve no clue as to what actual shape/form you want your fountain to have. Nor how large you foresee the thing to be. What kind of leaves do you plan on using? Huge gunneras or something medium sized?

But, I do hope these tips help get you to thinking and sketching your ideas out on paper. Though not the easiest project, it is quite doable. Obviously your creative skills will really come into play with a project like this!

Good luck. I really hope you are successful with this leaf fountain project … personally I think there’s nothing nicer than the sound of trickling water in my garden. 😉

Comments

  1. How do you prefer to paint your concrete or hypertufa projects?
    Also do you seal them at all, and if so before or after the painting/coloring

    Judy

  2. Hi Judy:

    To answer your questions, I don’t paint my hypertufa items, rather I will add dyes or colorants to the mix; and I’ve not yet had reason to paint a concrete item. I tend to paint on terra cotta pots and such. But yes … do use at least 2 good coats of sealant on ANY painted object you’ll be using outside. I apply a base coat of paint first; then my paint color(s); then the clear coats of sealant.

    Please refer to my Paint Project Techniques web pages on my main site to learn more about the ins and outs of successfully painting on garden art objects: http://www.the-artistic-garden.com/decorative-paint-techniques.html Look at the bottom of this page for all the links to the other pages of info.

    Good luck!

  3. Judy B says:

    Thank You for your thoughts on this. I have read soooo many websites on this subject. I was about ready to feel comfortable with what I had read from concrete specialist in sealing the concrete first with a high quality stain or sealer, then priming it, then painting your design on, and then putting on a few THIN coats of a clear top coat. Also what I’m referring to painting is birdbaths, which holds water continuously. I will check out your “Painted Project Techniques” section. Thanks

  4. Teri Zell says:

    I too want to make a fountain out of concrete cast elephant ears but not sure how to support them. I would like to have a one at the top and then split out to leaves on both sides coming down to one large leaf at the bottom which would sit on a tub where the pump would be stored. The bottom leaf would have several small holes or one with a strainer attached to keep out the gunk. How does one go about anchoring the leaves to ????. I’m thinking about using 6-8 leaves. Thanks!

  5. I would like to do the same as Terri Zell and cannot find the info anywhere. Terri- did you have any luck? Can someone please help out on how to make a base to support a elephant ear fountainted of 3-4 leaves for a garden? I have a “3 foot ” pump.

    Thanks,
    Ali

  6. How do you join the leaves to make the layered waterfall?????

  7. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Lynn: Well, joining “stacked” items can be tricky and this is where some knowledge of general building or construction helps. So much depends upon the finished look you want, i.e. how many leaves do you want to have to achieve a nice waterfall; how high do you want it to be from the bottom-most leaf to the top-most leaf; how large (the bigger the heavier each leaf will be) will the leaves need to be; etc.

    Many people will make an inner support frame/structure from rebar. But, in most cases the pieces of rebar will need to be welded to keep the frame rigid and sturdy. You don’t want any wobbling in your support frame. You could make a support frame from treated lumber. Then screws and/or nails could hold the frame together in a sturdy fashion.

    Or … depending upon your waterfall design, some people are able to join the leaves together with hypertufa that has a bonding agent included in the ingredients.

    There’s too much involved for me to be able to give you a simple answer. You’re just going to have to do some online searching to come up with some doable solutions. Good luck with your project! 🙂

  8. donna saverino says:

    Can you give specific instructions on building the pond part? What materials are used to make the hole but not see the water? Is it a plastic tub then filled with rocks? But then where is the water for the pump?

  9. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Donna:

    I wish I could be specific for you, but you are asking general questions. I could give you many different answers per question in an effort to try to guess what exact type and shape of pond you want to build. My best suggestion is to research all you can on the internet pertaining to pond building for the specific function of the pond, i.e. merely a decorative water feature, or one where you will have plants and fish, or specifically to be a Koi pond (there are very necessary “rules” to follow for Koi ponds), etc. And also search for forums about ponds and pond building.

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