• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to harness the sun's energy to power a backyard water feature.

    1. Dig a 6- to 8-inch-deep rectangular hole at the location of the fountain.
    2. Spread 2 to 3 inches of crushed stone into the hole.
    3. Rake the stone smooth, then compact it with a hand tamper.
    4. Add another 2 or 3 inches of crushed stone and compact it again. Repeat until the hole is full and the stone is level with the surrounding grade.
    5. Spread stone dust over the crushed-stone bed. Rake the dust smooth and level.
    6. Set the base of the fountain onto the bed and check it for level.
    7. Tap the fountain with a rubber mallet until it's level in both directions.
    8. Set the fountain's basin on top of the fountain base.
    9. Remove the stake from the solar panel and push it into the ground approximately 2 feet away from the fountain. Fasten the solar panel to the stake, making sure it faces south.
    10. Set the solar pump inside the fountain's basin, then pass the power cord out through the hole in the bottom of the basin.
    11. Dig a shallow trench from the pump to the solar panel, then bury the pump's power cord.
    12. Wrap putty around the plug, then force the plug into the hole in the basin, creating a waterproof seal around the power cord.
    13. Sit the fountain's cap on the edge of the basin.
    14. Have a helper reach inside the basin and feed the pump's hose through the hole in the cap. Then, slide the cap completely over the basin.
    15. Fill the basin with water and plug the pump's power cord into the solar panel. The flow of water should begin within a few seconds.
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
      Installation goes quickly, but the concrete fountain parts are heavy
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      Tools List

      • solar-powered fountain kit
        Solar-powered fountain kit
      • square shovel
      • metal garden rake
        Garden rake
      • wheelbarrow
      • tamper
        Hand tamper
      • two-foot level
        18-inch level
      • mallet
        Rubber mallet

      Shopping List

      Crushed stone mixed with stone dust, used to create a bed for fountain

      Stone dust, for a leveling bed for the fountain