Recently, a good friend gave me his parents’ vintage metal wheelbarrow! It was just what I needed to put together a water feature that I had been dreaming about making for awhile. If you have an old wheelbarrow that is water tight, consider making a Wheelbarrow Water Feature from it. Less mess and maintenance than a pond and small enough to tuck into a flowerbed, this garden accent will bring the birds, too.
First off, you will need to seal the old wheelbarrow so it will not rust. I chose to use a clear Thompson’s Water Seal because I wanted to keep the rusty, vintage look of this old beauty. If you would prefer, you can paint your wheelbarrow a color using an exterior metal paint. Let the paint or water seal coat dry for 48 hours in the sun before putting water in your wheelbarrow.
Unless you are placing your water feature right next to an outdoor GFI outlet, you will need to purchase an outdoor extension cord. Measure carefully to make sure you get one that is long enough to reach your project. Also buy a 120 GPH (gallons per hour) pump and a couple feet of clear tubing. Check to make sure your tubing fits onto the fountain water pump. We are lucky to have a small local hardware store where the clerks are very accommodating and will assist you in finding the right items. I try to give them my business as this kind of personal service is fast becoming a thing of the past. Since I had the wheelbarrow, hand pump, pots and Thompson’s Water Seal, I only had to buy these three items for a total of $36.
Arrange terracotta pots of different sizes in the wheelbarrow and fill it with water. I selected a large pot to set my antique hand pump on. If you are using a watering can or just threading the clear tubing up through a pot, this is the time to experiment on getting the look you are going for. The tub of the wheelbarrow is slanted. Use a terracotta saucer to level the large pot so it will not tip over when you add the hand pump.
Plug in your outdoor extension cord to a GFI protected outdoor electric outlet and extend the cord to the wheelbarrow.
Thread the clear tubing through the large pot and into the hand pump so the water will flow out of the spout. Attach the other end to your pump. Now you are ready to plug into your extension cord outlet and see if everything is working.
Adjust the water flow on the pump to the amount you desire. There is usually a little dial or switch on the pump base that controls water flow. Play around with it a little. Place the pump under the large flower pot to conceal it and make sure the plug is hanging well outside the wheelbarrow.
Then bury the extension cord in the mulch and your water feature is finished! Just remember to refill the water periodically so the water level stays high enough for the pump to be immersed. Some small pumps will automatically shut-off if the water level goes too low, but some will burn out if this happens.
For the winter, this water feature is easily dismantled and put away. Freezing would harm both the pump and the pots. But it will all store easily in the garden shed during the cold months and be easy to set up again this coming spring.
Here’s the Wheelbarrow Water Feature in its new spot in the garden. What a lovely sound! I’m sure the birds will be flocking to it soon. When I set it up again next spring, I’ll be adding some water plants to make a very special container garden!