“When the kids were little, we wanted the sound of running water in the garden, but neither of us really felt comfortable with the idea of a pond,” says Zak Costello.
“We’d just moved house,” explains his wife Stephie, “and we were in a bit of a ‘Zen’ stage, I think. We thought the place needed a dose of Feng Shui, so we came up with the idea of a bubble fountain to welcome visitors as they arrived.” She laughs, “well Zak was born and raised in California!”
The whole idea nearly got shelved, however, when they visited their local garden centre and saw how much a ready-made water feature was going to cost them. “We were absolutely broke back then. Just about every penny had gone into the house.”
Not a couple to give up too quickly, the pair of them began to wonder if they couldn’t do something a little cheaper. “We thought, just how hard can it be? I mean it’s only a pump and a few pebbles after all – and every time you put a spade in the ground in our garden, you found plenty of those,” Stephie adds.
A Tight Budget
They say necessity is the mother of invention, but a tight budget must surely be its auntie.
“It felt like we scoured the junk shops and the boot sales forever ” exclaims Stephie, “but in the end we found a broken plastic sieve that perfectly fitted our old nappy bucket – and we were on our way!”
Quickly digging a hole beside the front door to accommodate their now redundant bucket – in what they calculated to be an auspicious position to please any passing Japanese deities – Stephie and Zak slipped the old garden sieve into place and added the pond stones they had been religiously collecting.
“It looked really great,” Zak recalls, “but of course we still needed a pump.”
Adding the Pump
There must be something in all that Feng Shui; a couple of weeks later when Stephie popped up to the local shops with her youngsters, she spotted an advert in the window. Pond pump for sale – new and unused, it said.
“ I couldn’t believe my luck,” she says “I was grinning like the Cheshire cat when Zak got home from work!”
That weekend, they partly dismantled their earlier work, and added the prized pump to the set-up, standing it on a brick to ensure that the nozzle would be at the right height, once the installation was complete. As their chosen site was only a few feet from their front door, the electrical connection was very straightforward – just a case of drilling a hole in the frame and refitting the plug, after burying the cable inside a piece of discarded drainpipe to protect it from damage. They cut a hole in the sieve to allow the pipe to fit through, replaced it, filled the bucket with water, added the pebbles over the top and then switched on – and a collection of bits became a bubble fountain!
“We had to fiddle with the stones to get it looking right,” explains Zak, “but that was pretty much it.”
“And the kids thought it was brilliant,” Stephie adds.
Their children are older now, and today the family has a full-blown pond in their back garden, but their DIY bubble fountain is still the first thing to greet visitors to the house. Stephie cannot imagine ever getting rid of it.
“It’s like part of our history,” she explains, “and it just goes to show what you can do, even if you haven’t got a lot of money to play with. The most expensive part was the circuit breaker to plug it in.”
You really can’t argue with priorities like that!