How to Make a Shishi Odoshi for Your Garden

If you'd like to recreate the ambience of a Japanese garden in your outside space, why not install a traditional shishi odoshi, or bamboo water hammer?  This interesting and decorative water feature was originally used as a deer scarer by rice farmers to protect their crops from raiding animals.  Now the gentle, hollow knocking sound of the hammer against the cheerful burble of running water makes a lovely complement to any garden design.

You can install this unusual and interesting garden water feature in just a day, with a little DIY know-how.  Read on to find out more.

What you'll need

  • water hammer kit
  • plastic-coated grille
  • plastic water reservoir
  • electric pump
  • pebbles or shells for decoration
  • short length of flat wood
  • spirit level
  • water
  • ready-mix cement
  • spade

All the above can be purchased from good DIY stores.  Water hammer kits are also available online at stores such as The Greenery Garden Centre.

How to do it

  1. Choose a site for your water feature and dig a hole big enough for the water reservoir to sit in.  
  2. Site the reservoir in the hole and make sure it's absolutely level.  You can do this by placing the length of flat wood across the top of the reservoir and using the spirit level.  Ensuring that the reservoir stays level, pack any gaps around it with the excavated soil, and then remove and discard the piece of wood.  
  3. Work out where to position the water hammer by standing the hammer upright and running water through it.  The water should trickle into the reservoir.  Mark the site and then dig a hole accordingly.  
  4. Following the manufacturer's directions, mix the concrete and fill the hole with it.  Place the base of the hammer's bamboo post in the hole, and make sure that the arm of the hammer is facing the reservoir.  Use your spirit level to check that the bamboo post is upright and assemble the hammer as per the instructions given with the kit.  
  5. Next, put the water pump in the bottom of the reservoir and pull the cable over the rim.  
  6. Make a channel through your lawn or flower bed to accommodate the pump cable and run it through to an outdoor plug socket.  
  7. Next, connect the water-carrying tube to the pump and place the grille over the reservoir. Fill the reservoir with water, ensuring that the pump is covered.  
  8. Finish the project by covering the grille with shells or pebbles.  You could further augment your design by creating a backdrop of painted pots or planting up the area around the water hammer with Japanese grasses and ferns.  
  9. Switch on the pump and enjoy!

In conclusion

Add an unusual and attractive shishi odoshi water feature to your garden by following the instructions above.  Don't forget to top up the water in the reservoir during hot weather.