A fountain can be as simple as a concrete birdbath, a terra-cotta urn, or a stone trough fitted with a recirculation pump and a length of tubing to send the water upward. For safety, a pump should always be plugged into an outdoor GFCI outlet.
Protect the Pump's Longevity: To keep from shortening the life of a submersible pump, never let the water level drop so its housing is exposed. In areas prone to a hard freeze, bring the pump inside until spring unless you plan to heat the water basin or keep the fountain running all winter. Indoors, store it submerged in water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to prevent calcification.
Calculate the Power You Need: The average pump found at a garden center will suffice for a tabletop fountain. But for a larger-scale installation, look for one that can recirculate 15 to 20 gallons of water per minute.
Create the look of a ground-source spring. For a natural-looking DIY installation, a "pebble fountain" can be built at ground level so that the water drains back to an underground basin. Check out the illustration above to see how a stacked-stone pebble fountain could be constructed.