A Do-It-Yourself Water Feature

A buried trough for water plants and soothing sound.

The submerged trough garden just after construction; plants will eventually grow over the edges.   

Gross & Daley

Steve Whitesell created his small, ornamental water feature from a galvanized livestock watering trough he bought at an Agway. It’s about 4′ x 2′, and 18″ deep. “These do come in bigger sizes—but I got the largest one that would fit into my tiny car.”

Steve positioned the trough next to the stone wall he’d constructed, which is about 5′ tall on the garden side and 2 ½’ tall on the street side. He dug the hole with a hand shovel, and created a level base with several inches of sandbox sand. The lip of the trough purposely was left several inches above the grade, so that soil and mulch won’t wash in.


The small, submersible recirculating pump has a jet to keep the water aerated. Steve says the sound of it helps muffle traffic sounds when milk trucks rumble by. “I plug the pump into an exterior outlet, and keep it running from April to November. The jet goes about a foot high and looks quite nice.”

The dense planting around the trough will eventually drape over and blur its edges. Steve planted a dwarf cattail in the pond, along with evergreen, golden-leaved Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ around the edge—which loves wet soil and thrives in the water jet’s splash area. “Frogs sometimes show up, but they get eaten by the water snake that’s taken up residence.”


Tags: OHJ August 2018 Water Feature

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

More From This Category

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and products we find essential. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Product of the Week


© Copyright 2021 Home Group, a division of Active Interest Media. All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 20730 Boulder, CO 80308