How to Hook Up a Garden Fountain

Whether you build your own garden fountain or buy a ready-constructed fountain, the pump is hooked up essentially the same way. Spend a little extra time making sure these connections are done right, since safety is paramount and you are working with electrical and water sources in close proximity. If you make sure your water line is properly attached and the electrical cord is hooked up right, you should get years of enjoyment from your garden fountain.

Hook up your garden fountain in a few steps.

Step 1

Set your garden fountain where the electrical cord will reach the outlet. Do not use an extension cord, even an outdoor extension cord. It is safest to plug your pump directly into the electrical source. All outdoor electric outlets should be protected with a GFI or GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) device. These outlets are highly sensitive to any current that flows to the ground and will switch off power immediately to avoid electrocution.

Step 2

Find the location inside the fountain where the pump will be housed. In many prebuilt garden fountains and do-it-yourself constructions, the pump simply sits in the lowest part of the basin. When the tub is filled with water, the pump is fully submerged. In some garden fountains there is a small area set into the fountain where a submersible pump is less visible, yet it will remain safely underwater when the fountain is filled.

Step 3

Make sure the water line is attached securely to the pump. If nothing is connected, look for the end of the tubing that carries water up your fountain. Screw or clamp the end of tubing -- depending on the design of your pump -- firmly into place on the pump's outlet. The water outlet usually is marked on your pump if the configuration isn’t obvious.

Step 4

Fill your fountain. Make sure your submersible pump is fully covered with water.

Step 5

Hook up the pump’s electrical cord to the electrical supply. Turn on the pump.

Step 6

Prime the pump if water does not start flowing within a minute or so, but don’t be impatient: Sometimes it takes a little longer with a new pump. Priming the pump means making sure the pump is filled with water, not air. Air will block water flow. Try turning the switch on and off a few times to remove air. If that doesn’t work, you may have to tap the pump or lift it in and out of the water to remove any air blocks.


  • Make sure you never let the water level go so low that your pump goes dry. The pump will overheat and burn out. If something happens to the water supply, turn off the pump until water can be restored.

About the Author

Jane Gates, owner of Gates & Croft Horticultural Design, is a designer, landscape contractor and plant expert. She has hosted radio, television and online garden shows. Gates authored the whimsical garden book, "All the Garden's a Stage: Choosing the Best Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden," and is a member of the Garden Writers Association and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.