In our last article “The Art of Building Backyard Waterfalls” we discussed important factors you need to think about before you start to build a waterfall. We also talked about the most important factor which is the height, width, and depth of the waterfall design. Make sure to review these important factors before you start to build a waterfall by yourself! Once you are ready, let’s jump and discuss more decisions that need to be made when you build a waterfall.
Decide on Your Boulder Size
The size of your boulders is very important. If you use boulders that are too small, your waterfall will look like water flowing over small pebbles. Typically the larger the boulders and spillways, the more dramatic the waterfall looks. For example, a small 2-foot waterfall should incorporate at least two large 2-3 foot sized boulders while a 4-foot waterfall should use at least three boulders of that size or larger.
Decide on Your Water Pump Size
You might not think about it but a waterfall can often have too much water flowing over rocks. A large pump can create excessive water flow, noise, and splashing which can take away from the peaceful aesthetics of a natural waterfall. We always build a waterfall that is pleasant and meanders over rocks and spillways in a calm and peaceful manner. You do not need a mini Niagara Falls in order to make your backyard waterfall more dramatic! Remember, the larger the boulders and the wider your spillways, the higher the volume of water that will be needed in order to create a natural waterfall effect.
Decide on Either a Slope or Retaining Wall
The back of your waterfall will need either a slope or a retaining wall to ground it. Typically you should only use a retaining wall if space is limited or if the wall is part of your landscape design. When you have a slope behind your waterfall you create room for additional garden landscaping opportunities which will make your waterfall look more natural. It’s important to remember to landscape these slopes to in order to prevent erosion and also create water run-off paths to channel and drain rainwater when it is raining.
Using Landscaping to Build a Waterfall That Looks Natural
To build a natural looking waterfall we often install plants that will grow over the edges of the waterfall and in between the waterfall’s rocks and boulders just like what you see in nature. You can use regular plants around the waterfall and then use aquatic plants within the waterfall catch-pools. If you have a taller waterfall with a retaining wall behind it, then you will absolutely want to use a mixture of large regular and aquatic plants in and around your waterfall which will help hide the retaining wall. Let your plants grow out and get unruly. The wilder the plants look, the more natural your waterfall will look.
Don’t Forget Waterfall Lighting
Lighting is the secret ingredient for building a waterfall. Waterfalls always look great during the day, but at night a well-lit waterfall with lighting effects creates a gorgeous image of dancing reflections of light across the rocks and surrounding landscape. Lighting design requires a little bit of talent as you need to decide on the number of lights and where they will be placed. Think about lighting up every cascade of water over the spillway and make sure that the lighting fixture is completely submerged and has at least three inches of water above it.
Underwater lighting magnifies the effect of dancing light and shadows across the rocks and surrounding plants. When you think about it, we often work during the day and it is only in the evenings that we can appreciate our backyard waterfall, so lighting is a very important aesthetic factor! We recommend LED underwater lights as these lights use less energy and can project a variety of colors depending on your preference.
Building a waterfall is not easy, but the reward of enjoying the sights and sounds of a beautiful well-lit waterfall in the evening is unforgettable.
We Can Build A Waterfall For Less Than You Think
You will be surprised at how affordable it is for us to build a waterfall for you.
If you are interested in taking your backyard landscaping to the next level, contact us today at (310) 915-6600 for a complimentary site survey and estimate. We guarantee that your backyard waterfall and pond will be the envy of the neighborhood!