Mother Earth Living

Try This: Wheelbarrow Garden Fountain

Recycle two old wheelbarrows into a charmingly rustic garden fountain.
By Shannon Quimby
July/August 2012
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Recycle old wheelbarrows into a charmingly rustic garden fountain with this DIY project.
Photo By Stephen Cridland

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An old wheelbarrow is like an old friend—it’s been by your side through years of hard labor, stands the test of time, and you can always count on it to lend a helping hand.

But after years of companionship, a wheel goes flat, a leg starts to get a little rusty, and your old friend just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Don’t toss out that beat-up and battered ol’ barrow! Retire it to greener pastures as a one-of-a-kind water fountain. It will quickly become the heart of the yard and your trusty buddy will become the center of attention for all friends to enjoy.

Garden Fountain Supply List

Two people
Two metal wheelbarrows
Heavy-duty work gloves
Wire feed welder
26 feet of metal pipe (you will have some leftover pipe, just in case it’s needed)
2 feet of flat bar
Welding mask
Three tool heads to decorate tops of support pipe sections (we used a rake, shovel and pitchfork)
4-foot bubble level
Pond pump
Black electrical tape
Pond plants
Extension cord (optional)

How to Make a Wheelbarrow Garden Fountain

1. Make sure wheelbarrows are water-tight. If not, seal leaks with a waterproof seal such as Flex Seal (available at hardware stores).

2. Determine which wheelbarrow will be your base and which will be your upper wheelbarrow (if wheelbarrows are different sizes, use the larger for your base). Using the level, determine the best position for your base wheelbarrow. You want your base to be as level as possible.

3. Because the handle end of a wheelbarrow sits lower than the front end, you will need to create a more level base for the handle-end of your base wheelbarrow. Weld a short (approximately 2-inch) piece of the flat bar vertically to each wheelbarrow foot (see photo), creating a small footing. Then weld a section (approximately 3 feet) of flat bar perpendicular to both footings to create a flat base for the handle-end of the base wheelbarrow to rest upon.

4. Cut the metal pipe into three lengths: a 4-foot piece, a 5-foot piece and a 6-foot piece. You will use these pieces to connect the upper wheelbarrow to the base wheelbarrow.

5. Attach the two wheelbarrows to one another. Have one person hold the upper wheelbarrow at a 30-degree angle above the base wheelbarrow. The 4-foot and 5-foot pipes will connect the two wheelbarrows to one another. While one person holds the top wheelbarrow, the other person tack welds* the 4-foot pipe section to the handle-end of the base wheelbarrow and the front-left corner of the top wheelbarrow. Tack weld the 5-foot pipe section to the front end of the same side of the base wheelbarrow and the center of the right side of the top wheelbarrow (see photo).  

6. Support the upper wheelbarrow. Tack weld the 6-foot pipe near the left handle of the upper wheelbarrow, allowing the 6-foot piece to rest on the ground, acting as a support for the upper wheelbarrow.

7. Fully weld the pipes. Once you are happy with the position of the 4-, 5- and 6-foot pipe sections, fully weld each point.

8. Strengthen the support pipes. To strengthen the vertical 4-, 5- and 6-foot pipe sections, connect them to one another with three horizontal pieces of pipe, welded approximately 4 inches off the ground. When they are all welded on, the three horizontal pipe sections will look like a triangle when viewed from above. 

9. Weld a decorative tool head on top of each vertical pipe.

10. Place the pond pump in the center of the base wheelbarrow. Run the tube out of the base wheelbarrow, up the 4-foot pipe and along the underside of the top wheelbarrow, securing it with black electrical tape. Run the tube over the inner edge of the upper wheelbarrow so water pours into it. Tape the tube to the handle and 6-foot pipe. 

11. Fill the base wheelbarrow with water and pond plants. 

12. Plug in the pond pump cord. You might need an extension cord.

13. To disguise the tube that is hanging over the upper wheelbarrow, secure a large plant in front of it. Make sure not to clog the tube.

14. Enjoy your very own wheelbarrow water fountain!   

*Tack Weld: A small weld that temporarily holds the wheelbarrows together for positioning. If you don’t like the angle of the wheelbarrows, you can break the weld and reposition them.

Shannon Quimby is a stylist, author of the book Color, Create, Decorate, and contributor to the DIY Network. 

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