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How to Build a Waterfall For Your Backyard Pond

build a waterfall for your pondBack Yard Waterfalls or DIY Waterfalls and Ponds can imitate the streams and cascades found in nature, or they can be formal in design. I prefer natural looking streams and use rocks of various sizes from small river rock to larger stones.  To create a cascading effect, place smaller stones and pebbles in the watercourse itself as you can see in my other pond pages. For formal ponds, you can incorporate timbers, poured concrete slabs (I used these for my step downs in the stream), masonry blocks or bricks. In both formal and informal ponds, waterfalls usually consist of a series of small pools, ponds, or catch basins linked by low cascades. If space is limited, you can install a single raised catch basin above the pond, connected by a single fall or you can have the multi tiered falls. If space permits, you could include a meandering stream between the falls or between ponds if you have more than one.

Building a stream bed or natural water course is largely a matter of trial and error. To create the effect you want, you'll have to experiment with different sizes and shapes of rocks, as well as their placement in and around the stream. Before starting, try to have a good idea of the effect you want to create. Look at as many photographs of waterfalls as you can find. Take hikes along local streams, noting the size, shape, and texture of the rocks, and how the water moves over and around them.


Design your back yard pond or waterfall so all water drops directly into the pool or catch pool or large amounts of water will be lost if water is allowed to splash outside catch basins or the pond. I have had this problem and literally lost "gallons" of water because of this and unless you have automatic fill on your pond, you don't want to run the hose out there more than you have too.  Some evaporation is normal and expected though.  Keeping your falls low and the stream relatively short will minimize water loss through evaporation or evaporation in backyard ponds in general. Smaller, deep basins are preferable to larger, shallow ones, too, for keeping evaporation to a minimum. Also, you must build the watercourse carefully to avoid leaks between rocks along the bank and behind the falls.  Make sure you have sufficient liner under these areas because you will be amazed at how fast you can loose water this way too.

water fall picturesYou should keep the waterfall in scale with the pond. A small trickle in a large pond won't be very dramatic, and it will be relatively ineffective in re-circulating and oxygenating the water. On the other hand, a large cascade gushing into a small pond will disrupt a large portion of the water surface, stirring up sediment and making it nearly impossible to raise fish, water lilies, and other aquatic plants that prefer still water. If you want both a large, cascading fall and aquatic plants, you should design the pond so that plants can be placed away from the wave action and splashing.


To provide water to your waterfall, you will be re-circulating water from the pond. 

This is accomplished by a small or large electric pump depending your waterfall size and a length of properly sized hose or tubing for your pump (I use 1" in my case).  I choose to bury this for effect but yo can cover it with other methods also.  A variety of pumps made specifically for ponds are available from watergarden suppliers and local swimming-pool dealers. Make sure you select a size that will provide enough flow to operate the waterfall in the way you desire.  Believe me when I tell you that there is a large difference between 1200 GPH and 4800 GPH (gallons per hour) when it comes to effect.  Above all use your imagination when building these and think about other water features you've seen that you like.  DIY backyard waterfalls and ponds are a lot of fun and not that hard to do so give it a try and enjoy!




Written by WM8C, July 3, 2006 - not for use without permission

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