How to Install a Water Feature that Reuses Rainwater | Ask This Old House

How to Install a Water Feature that Reuses Rainwater | Ask This Old House

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

Time: 1 day

Cost: $5,000 and up

Skill Level:

Tools List for Installing a Rainwater Collection Water Feature:
Landscape gloves

Shopping List:
Structural pond blocks
Pump vault pond block
Pond pump
Landscape fabric
Basalt columns with 1” holes
Downspout filter
1” PVC and fittings

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 (

About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

Follow This Old House and Ask This Old House:

For more on This Old House and Ask This Old House, visit us at:

How to Install a Water Feature that Reuses Rainwater | Ask This Old House


  1. T on January 2, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    How much are you paying for the pumps electricity ?

  2. Don Davies on January 2, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for such an amazing and in-depth video on water feature installation. I’m really excited for my project to start next week. I know will do a great job on my pond project!

  3. girlonlaptop on January 2, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    It looked better before imho.

  4. Seventh Shields on January 2, 2022 at 3:14 pm


  5. youtuuba on January 2, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Many TOH videos have a fake look, like a poor reality show, but at least the TOH hosts of most (older?) episodes seemed like they knew what they were talking about, and had done that work many times themselves in the past. THIS episode, well…..the gal seemed like a total poser, and both she and the hired expert guy were pretending to do work with rocks while barehanded and wearing wedding rings, the excavator was dumping a bucket load into a wheelbarrow with less capacity than the bucket, the list of crap content goes on and on. They never mentioned what happens to the trapped water during heavy rains. They did not really show the recycling filtration that would be necessary….but hey, they showed the pump that the homeowner could use to deplete the water in the system in order to WASH HER CAR???? This was a sucky episode.

  6. The Bubbleboy 1 on January 2, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    ROGER WHERE DID YOU GO, WHO IS SHE, i need to catch up on this show

  7. Jess Dixon on January 2, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Are those cold volcano rocks I thought yes🤔🤔

  8. ibeat theleaves on January 2, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    How to: Blow your production budget in seven minutes.

  9. G on January 2, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    $5000 fountain in your front yard, below the porch. She can really enjoy this when she walks to her car…. idiots. That rhododendron was prettier.

  10. JonD on January 2, 2022 at 3:20 pm

    I always use my excavator for gardening

  11. wally leistiko on January 2, 2022 at 3:20 pm

    Gonna have to add that one to the to-do list. Great job !

  12. Alex Martins on January 2, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    Typical democratic state that restricts homeowners from using their own water that they pay for. C’mon man!

  13. Robbit on January 2, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    So when she accidentally uses all the water up for other things, and the water pump motor burns out, how do you get to it in order to replace it? I also don’t see a way to monitor the amount of water in there. Unless they simply didn’t show these things, there was no foresight used in the design.

  14. Auston Monteforte on January 2, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    12,000 dollars installed just get a pond

  15. Lukas on January 2, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    It would look good if she plants more plants

  16. derewreck on January 2, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    2:57 …….
    3:00 Lets get to it.

  17. Reject & Block on January 2, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    So, when the heavy rains start coming in, what’s to stop this whole thing from becoming a flooded muddy mess?

  18. SquirrelsForAll on January 2, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    So how do you clean this? Just seems like a very temporary design which you’ll eventually need to completely take apart and clean sludge and debris, not to mention fairly stagnant water.

  19. Pine on January 2, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    BOOOOOOOOO we want Roger

  20. JesusisKing on January 2, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    Looks ok

  21. Machigane on January 2, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    Wow that looks terrible. What a waste of time and money. Rich people spending money on crap like this instead of helping others. This is society now. Awesome! Good job! Thumbs up! Way to go! Your house looks amazing now. What a transformation. My god how utterly wasteful.

  22. Lukas on January 2, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    Even though Rodger is not in this video, we still got some Boston accent at 2:00, excavata

  23. Stephen E. Cox on January 2, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    How to replace a large, healthy plant with a tacky fountain that requires you to regularly clean out a pool filter.

  24. its Neil on January 2, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    So what’s gonna happen when it rains heavily? Plus the size of the container is so small it’ll overflow in minutes even if it rains just a little bit.

  25. Trevor Schiavone on January 2, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    A lot of work for a pretty water feather that just spits water everywhere. I liked the one from a previous job they showed much better

  26. Alan T on January 2, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    “I can’t thank you enough….” Just write the check…. 💰

  27. GOLD, BULLETS & BEANS on January 2, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    there was absolutely nothing wrong with that rhododendron. Look at the leaves and look at all the blooms.

  28. Reid Moore on January 2, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    did they not call before they dug

  29. Jorge on January 2, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    Mosquito Heaven

  30. Jose Rodriguez on January 2, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    All that work just for that
    Not worth it

  31. logan D on January 2, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    Nice video but it’s not the same without Rogers New England accent

  32. Stephen Carney on January 2, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    The claim that this won’t grow algae because it gets topped off with rainwater is ridiculous. Water + organics + sunlight = algae. Doesn’t matter if it’s tap water, rainwater, distilled water, or holy water. Get the chlorine ready. Head that’s “sustainable”

  33. Lin Yubin on January 2, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Too close the stair wall.

  34. Lynette Niswo on January 2, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    So what happens to excess water during the rainy season?

  35. My Cool on January 2, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Side note; could they park that trailer any closer to the house 🤤

  36. Auston Monteforte on January 2, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Auto doser maybe?

  37. John Anders on January 2, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    I really hope the resident of the house didn’t think that water fountains used new water, and did not recycle it.

  38. Per Shop on January 2, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Except it didn’t rain yet (according to the video) so they must have had to fill it up with water from the outside hose. If it doesn’t rain for a while, this is what we would have to do to keep the water feature working.

  39. Greenid Guy on January 2, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    ALL rocks are volcanic rocks…duh!

  40. jd415 on January 2, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    All that work for that little thing

  41. King_red _F350 on January 2, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    Ladies when the husband says no but they’re on vacation right now

  42. Beauty Beast on January 2, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    So Sad for the Rhododendron 🙁

  43. Game Changer on January 2, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    "This Rhododendron’s in tough shape" – Absolutely excellent healthy plant. Too lazy to transfer it. Also did not notice a single line locator mark nor flag before digging. This woman in almost every video does NOT live up to TOH’s expectations of Quality work, likable character and expert advise. They seriously need to get rid of her. This has to be the absolutely worst install of any episode – ever. Splashing water everywhere, a mosquito haven, creating excessive moisture for mold and mildew. That yard will be horrid in a short time. Its also UGLY and definitely NOT worth killing a plant that looked great, took years to grow, and was thriving and healthy.

  44. Luis D on January 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    How about the electrical part of this installation?

  45. Big Beef89 on January 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Dumbest fuckn thing over ever seen

  46. Naeem Kashmiri on January 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    2:57 It went black for some reason

  47. Fuff Mcduffin on January 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    I like it. Only thing I’d add are some fruit producing plants or some veggie plants. Don’t just make it look nice, make it work for you! Though she probably lives in an area where you can’t grow edibles in the front yard.

  48. Eyez On Me on January 2, 2022 at 4:03 pm


  49. Nicholas Bennett on January 2, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    But they don’t tell you that you have to constantly refill the water feature especially in the summer

  50. banana_split961 on January 2, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Bring back roger

Leave a Comment