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How to Install a Water Feature that Reuses Rainwater

Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada installs a water feature that collects and reuses rainwater.

Steps for installing a water feature

  1. Before digging, always contact the local utility marking service to locate any underground pipes or wires in the work area.
  2. Dig a hole where you plan to install the water feature. It should be about two feet deep. This can be done quickly with an excavator.
  3. Use the rake to rake out any rocks in the soil until the base is a flat, smooth surface.
  4. Decide where to locate the pump. Using a shovel, dig out a hole to hold the pump vault.
  5. Lay the landscape fabric in the hole.
  6. Place the rubber liner on top of the landscape fabric. It should be the double the size so it can wrap around the structural blocks once they are in place.
  7. Lay another piece of landscape fabric on top of the rubber liner to protect the rubber from the structural blocks.
  8. Place the pump vault and the structural blocks in place in the hole. They should lay flat and level.
  9. Backfill between the structural blocks and the liner with stones.
  10. Dig a hole underneath the nearest downspout for the downspout filter. Then, put it in place. Run a pipe from the filter to the reservoir.
  11. Plumb the pump and the pipes, then run the pipes through the basalt columns.
  12. Put the basalt columns in place. You can use flat stones to balance them.
  13. Make a perimeter around the water feature using the field stone.
  14. Fill in the perimeter with stones.
  15. Fold the rubber liner over the structural blocks and backfill with soil. Add plantings if desired.


The water feature that Jenn installed including the rubber liner, underlayment, structural blocks, pump vault, basalt columns, and pump were all manufactured by Aquascape.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Decker’s Landscape and Aquatics, Nawada Landscape Design, and New England Aquatic Landscaping.


You may choose to rent an excavator to clear the area.

Excavator rental