Installing an In-Ground Birdbath
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 3, 2021)
Bird baths can be a wonderful addition to any garden, and are remarkably easy to install. The easiest of all bird baths to install are the traditional pedestal bird baths that you can find in any home and garden store. With those types of bird baths, all you really need to do is set them down in your chosen location, with a little bit of a foundation for anchoring (if you want). There is another kind of bird bath though that you can use which looks a little more natural, the in-ground bird bath. Installing an in-ground bird bath is a remarkably easy project that you can complete in a single day.
- Decorative mosaic tiles
- Plastic sheeting or tarp
- 5 gallon bucket
- 50 pound bag of quick drying concrete
- Dust mask
- Waterproofed work gloves
- Spray bottle
- Concrete sealant
- Choose a location. To properly install an in-ground bird bath is to choose the right location. The ideal location for an in-ground birdbath is going to be near a tree, but at least 15 feet away from any type of perennial cover or shrubs. This will allow a place for birds to escape from any predators, as well as preventing predators from being able to sneak up on the birds as they enjoy their bath.
- Prepare your location. In your chosen location you will need to dig a hole for the bird bath. This hole should be about 15 inches in circumference, and about six inches in depth, which has a flat bottom and sloping sides. After you have the hole properly dug, remove anything that can give a predator, such as a cat, a place to hide. Things that need to be removed are such things as bushes, shrubs, vines, and other types of plants that provide cover.
- Prepare the base. Once you have prepared the location, it is time to prepare the base. This base is where the basin shall rest, as well as help you to form the basin itself. Along the bottom of your hole, you need to lay a 1 inch deep layer of moist sand. Make sure that the bottom of the hole is as flat as possible so that your basin will be stable. As you are laying the sand, periodically spray it with your water bottle so that it will stay moist and easy to shape.
- Prepare and pour the concrete. Once you have the base prepared, it is time to begin making the actual basin. Start by mixing about 40 pounds of concrete in a wheelbarrow with some water. Use a 5 gallon bucket to slowly add the water as you mix the concrete, and be sure to stir as you add the water. Continue to mix and add water to the concrete until it has achieved the consistency of really thick peanut butter. Quickly pour the concrete into the depression, but only fill it up enough so that you have enough to work with. After having poured the concrete, be sure that you work quickly (the concrete usually begins to set within 10 minutes). Shape the basin so that it is fills the entire hole, meaning 15 inches wide, and that it is about 2 or 3 inches at its thickest point.
- Decorate and cure the concrete. After you have formed the basin, decorate it a little bit. Add pieces of mosaic tile, recycled colored glass, shells, or anything else decorative that you may like into the cement. Press the items into the concrete to have it hold. Spray the concrete with your spray bottle again so that the concrete can cure properly. Then cover everything with your plastic tarp. Place a few rocks, or pegs onto the plastic sheet to hold it in place. Allow the concrete to cure for at least 7 days, but no more than 14 days
- Seal the concrete. Once you have cured your concrete as much as you would like to, go ahead and seal it. Using concrete sealant can help protect the basin from water damage, as well as keeping it from getting stained.
Now that you have built your in the ground bird bath, all you need to do is fill it up with water, and maintain it. Keep in mind that bird baths are not supposed to be particularly deep, so only fill it up to a maximum depth of 3 inches. Once you have it filled up, remember to periodically clean it to keep the water from getting stagnant. This should be done no less than once a month and as many times as necessary to ensure that the water doesn't become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and illness.
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