Water features are attractive and fun additions to your garden - there's nothing more relaxing than
sitting outside and listening to the sound of gurgling water! Few of us are immune to the sound of
water, but many of us don't have the space or the means to recreate a full-fledged water feature in our
yards. Don't despair, though, because there are some really interesting alternatives available!
One of our all-time favorite water features is named the “bubbling rock” - mainly because that's exactly
what it looks like! A boulder or river rock is nestled into a garden and water magically bubbles out of
the top of it, cascading down the contours of the rock. This type of water feature can be done in a small
area, either indoors or out, with minimal cost or upkeep, making it a great addition to your home or
Bubbling rock water feature on display in the WBTV booth at the Charlotte Southern Women’s Show, September 17 – 20, 2009.
How does a bubbling rock work? Three key ingredients - a rock, a basin, and a pump kit – are the
components for this water feature.
1. The Rock. Not all rocks are suitable as bubbling rocks because of their composition and/or
formation; those that chip or break easily into small pieces or layers would not survive the
drilling process. River rocks, granite boulders and rubbles work well for the most part. Beyond
the composition, since a hole needs to be drilled vertically through the entire rock, the size of
the selected rock is dependent on the size of the drill bit available. Different shapes and angles
on stones offer interesting cascading effects as the water bubbles out of the rock. We do not
recommend drilling your own rock – the process is hazardous and is best left to professionals.
From right to left: river rock, granite and rubble bubbling rocks.
2. The Basin. You will need some sort of basin or reservoir to store the water under the bubbling
rock. This could be a hole dug out of your yard and lined with a pond liner or a pre-formed,
heavy plastic basin. An AquaBasin is perfect for the job; it is a basin covered with a grated flat
deck that allows your rock to sit on top and the water and pump to sit underneath it. It can be
buried in the ground or used on a patio or indoors with stone around it to complement the
water feature. The basin comes in two sizes, 30” x 30” x 10” deep or 45” x 45” x 14” deep
Large AquaBasin – reservoir with grated cover (available at Blue Max Materials).
3. The Pump Kit. A pump suitable for the size and design of your water feature is needed to shoot
the water up through the bubbling rock. Appropriate accessories including hoses, valves,
clamps and fittings are paired with the pump to operate the entire system.
Once the components are together, it’s a matter of selecting and preparing a site. These kits can be
installed on a level surface indoors or on an existing patio area outdoors. As seen in the photo above at
the Southern Women’s Show, natural stone and plant material can be built around the basin to
camouflage it. Consideration for “splash” outside of the basin area is especially important if used in an
Outdoor bubbling rock constructed on a patio surface in a raised ring.
The basin can also be installed outdoors by burying it in the ground. Select the desired location and
excavate a hole the size and depth of the basin. Tamp the soil in the bottom of the hole to create a solid
base and add a thin layer of C-10 sand to serve as a leveling base. Set the basin in the hole and tamp the
soil around the edges to hold it in place.
You’re now ready to add the plumbing (based on the instructions included with the pump kit) and your
bubbling rock. Fill in the remaining grate area with something like river jacks or Mexican beach pebbles
to give it a polished look. Keep in mind that simple water features like these do not have automatically
refilling reservoirs, so they will need to have water added to the basin periodically depending on
weather and climate conditions.
The concept of a bubbling rock water feature is simple and Blue Max Materials makes it easy by offering
these items as a customized package. You select a stone or group of stones from our pre-drilled
collection and an AquaBasin and pump kit suitable to the size of your desired feature. You’ll be able to
take home all the necessary components and before long, you’ll be relaxing to the sound of a bubbling
rock at your home!
Examples of various bubbling rock water features.