DIY: Running An Underground Electrical Wire To Your Garden Fountain

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If you dream of adding a water fountain to your backyard so you can relax to the gentle movement and soothing sounds of running water, you probably already know that you will need to install a power source. That typically means supplying electricity to your fountain. Running the electric cord under the ground is the safest method. With a little help from your electrician, you can do it yourself. Follow these steps to run electricity to your fountain.


It may be tempting to install your fountain and worry about the electrical line later, but there are some things you should do before your fountain goes in the ground.

  1. Call your local electrician to install a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet on the outside of your home. The GFCI outlet monitors the flow of electricity through the circuit. If it detects an imbalance, it automatically shuts off the electrical current. What this means to you is that if you are ever in danger of the electrical current entering your body, the outlet will trip and prevent injuries. It also means that if a leak develops in the cord and enters the ground, the outlet will also shut off the electricity. GFCI outlets protect you, your family and pets from harm.
  2. Choose a location for your fountain where its cord will reach the outlet - or measure the distance from the desired location to the outlet and purchase a fountain with a cord long enough to reach. Don't forget to consider the distance from the pump to the trench and from the trench to the outlet.
  3. Dig a trench to a depth of 18 inches that leads from the outlet to the pump of the fountain. National Electric Code (NEC) regulations require a depth of at least 18 inches for electrical wires buried in PVC (and other rigid, non-metal conduits).
  4. Line the bottom of the trench with 2 inches of gravel to prevent rocks from damaging the PVC pipe.

Assembling the Pipe and Threading the Line

Thinking ahead and working in an orderly manner makes running the electrical line to your fountain easier. Follow these steps to avoid hassles with threading the cord later.

  1. Cut the PVC pipe to the proper length for the trench. Cut the vertical sections to the appropriate height to reach the pump and the GFCI outlet.
  2. Tie a heavy nut to the end of a roll of nylon garden twine.
  3. Drop the nut into the vertical section nearest the fountain. Tip the pipe so the nut and twine fall through the pipe. Pull the twine from the end of the pipe  and thread it through an elbow. Insert the nut into the horizontal section. Tip the horizontal section so that the nut (and string) drops down the PVC pipe.
  4. Secure the vertical section to the horizontal section with an elbow.
  5. Pull the nut and string out of the end of the horizontal pipe and thread it through the second elbow.
  6. Hold the vertical pipe upright and drop the nut into the pipe so that it falls through the bottom.
  7. Tape the nut and string to the outside of the pipe.
  8. Secure the vertical pipe to the horizontal pipe with an elbow.

Running the Electrical Line & Final Touches

Now that you have your PVC pipe assembled and have created a lead line with the twine, you are ready to thread the electrical line and finish the project.

  1. Cut the garden twine from the ball on the end near the pump, allowing 6 inches of excess twine.
  2. Tie the electrical cord to the twine. Test that the knot is tight and the cord is securely attached to the twine.
  3. Untape the twine on the outlet end of the pipe. Gently pull the twine to thread the electrical cord through the PVC pipe.
  4. Position the PVP pipe into the bottom of the trench.
  5. Fill in the trench with soil and pack it down firmly.
  6. Plug in your garden fountain.

Talk to your electrician about the proper way to mark your underground electrical line. Some areas may require specific markers. Otherwise, note the location of the electrical wire in your household documentation or place a note near your electrical box. For more information, see