Knocking down an old garage or storage shed can leave you with a muddy mess or a dry barren patch that that needs to be filled. The grass might grow greener on the other side of the fence, but it doesn't always grow greener under old buildings. A strong decorative element can fill the fruitless void.
Replacing your defunct dilapidated building with a millstone rock fountain alleviates the question of how to repair the soil. It will give your yard a natural stunning ornament that can blend in with any landscape. It will take a weekend or two to put together, but it's a lot easier than knocking down an old garage.
A millstone fountain is made from a large round flat rock that was formerly used for grinding grain. Since an authentic millstone might be a challenge to find, you can use a large flat round rock and achieve the same results. The challenge with not using a millstone is that you will have to drill a hole in the middle of the rock to accommodate the fountain jet and to provide easy access to the tub below. Look for a rock that is about four feet in diameter. While you're at it, start collecting river rocks that are between 1 1/2” to 4” in diameter to fill in the perimeter and decorate the surface.
For this project you'll need a plastic tub that is 5' in diameter and 18” deep, a 28” plastic tube, a perforated 6” diameter PVC pipe that is 20” long to accommodate the fountain jet, and three or four 6” diameter pipes 25” long to support the millstone. You'll also need a small submersible pump, some concrete pre-mix – and of course, a shovel. Possibly the most important thing to have is the help or means to move your millstone on top of your tub. It will be extremely heavy.
You will need to install the fountain with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) nearby. You can always install the outlet if one doesn't exist. If your old building was a garage or workshop you might be lucky enough to have one nearby.
The first thing you need to do is dig a hole for the plastic tub that's going to hold the water. Once the hole is excavated, use the concrete premix to line the hole with a 4” thick layer of concrete. This will give the fountain the support it needs. Don't insert the fountain until the concrete dries This will take several days. Ideally, you can dig a hole and layer it one weekend, and install the tub the next.
Once the concrete has dried, insert the tub so the top is level with the ground. If it's not, your millstone won't lay straight. Just move the surrounding soil around as needed to create a level top edge.
Now you can get the pump ready for action. Your three (or four) 25” PVC pipes will be standing up under the millstone rock to help support it (but putting the millstone on your fountain is the very last step). You will have to surround the pipes with river rocks. Set these pipes up to logically balance the millstone, then put layers of river rock around each pipe for support until the rocks are just about an inch from the top of the pipes.
The 20” long perforated PVC pipe will be centered and act as a pump cylinder. Connect the tube for the fountain jet to the submersible pump, then put the assembly at the bottom of the standing 20” pipe piece.
Once the pipes are positioned and the pump is in place, position the electrical cord safely away from the water, and fill your tub with water. Then plug in the pump. Test it out, and adjust the water flow to the level you want.
At this point, it's best to take a break before the next two steps. After you take a breather, gather your strength and get your weightlifting helpers together. Lift up the millstone and place it on the tub with the fountain jet protruding from the center hole.
River rocks are the finishing touch. Arrange the river rocks to hide the hole and hardware, scattering some on the surrounding stone to create a visual flow. Then, surround the perimeter of the fountain with a wreath of river rocks.
It's up to you if your weekend project is done. You can transform the area to an exotic gardening escape, create an outdoor room with a stoned patio cascading from the fountain, or add lush woodland plantings and create a secluded retreat. Your fountain may have have contributed to your perspiration, but it's just the beginning of inspiration for outdoor living ideas.