The sounds of a simple bamboo fountain provides a soothing, background music.

How to Build a Bamboo Fountain

by Brian Barth

Together, bamboo and running water complete a tropical or Japanese garden. A bamboo fountain combines these elements in a miniature backyard oasis. If you happen to have the right size bamboo already growing, you can harvest your own for a homegrown, do-it-yourself project. If not, many garden centers offer bamboo poles, plus the pumps and tubing needed to make a simple fountain. Only a couple of hours are needed to put it together, though the concept is easily customized and extended into a more elaborate Asian-inspired water garden.

Cut a 2-foot long section from a 2-inch-diameter bamboo pole and a 9-inch section from a 3/4-inch pole. Cut the smaller piece between two nodes -- the ribbed parts where there is a small wall inside dividing the hollow tube. Cut the larger piece so one end is open without a node and the other end is closed with a node just below the cut.

Drill a 3/4-inch diameter hole in the sidewall of the larger piece of bamboo about 3 inches below the top.

Dig a hole to the approximate size of the basin that will catch the water spilling from the fountain. Set the basin in the hole so the rim is about 1 inch above the surrounding soil level, adjust it as needed to make sure it is level on top and back fill the soil around the basin. Or, if it is an ornamental basin, simply set it on flat ground.

Cut two pieces of 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe to a length of 8 inches. Push the pieces all the way into the opposite ends of a 1 1/2-inch PVC T fitting. It is not necessary to glue the pipe to the fitting.

Position the pipe vertically about 4 to 6 inches from the edge of the basin with the open end of the T fitting facing the basin. Lay the two-by-four on top of the PVC to protect it, and pound it with a mini-sledgehammer to drive the PVC into the ground. Continue hammering until the middle of the T fitting is even with the soil level. Have a helper hold the PVC pipe to keep it vertical as it goes in the ground.

Remove any soil that is blocking the open end of the T fitting. Slide the end of a piece of 1/2-inch flexible tubing into the T, and thread it up the PVC pipe and out the top.

Thread the tubing up through the larger piece of bamboo and out the hole that was drilled into it. Pull it about 6 inches out of the hole. Slide the smaller piece of bamboo over the tubing, pushing the smaller bamboo about 3/4 of an inch into the hole in the side of the larger piece.

Slide the larger bamboo over the PVC, while pulling out the slack in the flexible tubing through the T fitting. Be careful to not pull the tubing out of the smaller piece of bamboo.

Rotate the bamboo so the smaller bamboo extends over the basin like a water spout. Drill a pilot hole into each side of the vertical piece of bamboo and into the PVC pipe that's inside about 6 inches off the ground. Drive a 1 1/2-inch exterior wood screw into each pilot hole to secure the bamboo to the PVC.

Slide a small hose clamp over the exposed end of tubing and slide the tubing over the outlet nipple of the fountain pump. Slide the hose clamp back down over the end of the tubing around the nipple, and tighten it with a screwdriver.

Place a brick in the bottom of the basin, and place the pump on top. Fill the basin with water, and plug in the pump. Water should now be pouring out of the bamboo spout and into the basin.

Stake the electrical cord and flexible tubing flat on the ground, and spread a 1-inch layer of decorative pebbles around the fountain as a ground cover.

Squeeze a bead of clear exterior caulking into the gap between the two pieces of bamboo where the smaller one passes through the wall of the bigger one to keep moisture from entering.

Items you will need

  • 2-inch diameter bamboo pole
  • 3/4-inch diameter bamboo pole
  • Tape measure
  • Hacksaw
  • Shovel
  • Water basin at least 1-foot in diameter
  • Carpenter's level
  • 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe
  • Short two-by-four block
  • 5-foot piece of 1/2-inch flexible black tubing
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Hose clamp
  • Fountain pump
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Brick
  • Metal stakes
  • Decorative pebbles


  • To preserve the appearance of the bamboo, coat the pieces with an exterior wood sealant.


  • Always wear eye protection when using a saw or drill.
  • Plug the fountain pump into a grounded outdoor outlet only.

About the Author

Brian Barth works in the fields of landscape architecture and urban planning and is co-founder of Urban Agriculture, Inc., an Atlanta-based design firm where he is head environmental consultant. He holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia. His blog, Food for Thought, explores the themes of land use, urban agriculture, and environmental literacy.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images