Sandstone Water Features

Written by benna crawford
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Sandstone Water Features
Imagine old sandstone pieces with new life as garden water features. (mill wheels in snow image by gb from

Sandstone can provide wonderful water features for residential landscaping, both in the form of recycled old pieces and from newly cut boulders and slabs. The stone is porous—although fine-grained sandstone will hold water—and will wear over time, adding to the charm of the pieces. Search for antique industrial items to repurpose, or select beautiful shades of new stone for waterfalls and ponds.

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Unconventional and Traditional Fountains

An old mill wheel becomes a burbling garden fountain with an overlay of history. The large, heavy sandstone wheels were used to grind grain in mills powered by burns or streams. Conveniently, they have a central hole already drilled. Set a mill wheel in a pond, or on a base of rocks to be a pondless fountain, and hook up to a water hose and pump. The water pressure can be adjusted to bubble out the top of the hole and over a horizontal mill wheel, or the wheel can be set on its rim and the cascading water will form a waterwall or waterfall as it shoots out and over the stone.

Sandstone is used in more elaborate and traditional garden fountains that copy the designs of famous castle or estate gardens. Those fountains may have several, tiered levels replete with carved cherubs and angels or other sculptural embellishments.

Fish Pond Trough

A large antique or contemporary sandstone trough can be repurposed as a fish pond or water garden—with one caveat: Sandstone is porous, so a watertight seal will require either very fine-grained sandstone or the addition of a pond liner or sealant. With a fine-grained sandstone that may experience slight water loss, the incorporation of a water spigot or refillable fountain into the design will keep the fishpond topped up, with some monitoring. Plant the pond with floating water plants and edge it with grasses growing out of sunken containers. Don’t overcrowd the fish. Large koi need lots of room—and make a significant mess that could lead to algae problems. Be sure the pond has some shade, use smaller goldfish and consult with an expert at the aquarium supply to adjust your fish choices to the limits of your pond.

Sandstone Slab Waterwall

Mount a slab of sandstone against an exterior patio or garage wall, bracing the stone a few inches from the wall and slanting it slightly outward at the bottom. Position a water catchment below the slab that will hold a circulating pump and decorative river stones. Run the water hose or pipe from the pump, up the back of the slab, and secure at the top so that water will spill over the edge but the hose will not show. The sandstone waterwall darkens where it absorbs water and will erode very slightly over a long time, making it look more and more like a natural fixture in your landscape.

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