The Art of Building Backyard Waterfalls

Backyard Waterfalls LAWhen looking at backyard waterfalls built by hand, we have all seen those “WOW” waterfalls that take our breath away with their beauty and we have also seen those “what were they thinking” waterfall designs that look unnatural and just plain ugly. So what exactly are the design and landscaping secrets that we use to make beautiful, natural looking backyard waterfalls?


Step 1: Think About the Flow of Water

When building a backyard waterfall and pond it’s important to ask yourself “how will the water flow” at every step in the design process. Boulders and rocks should be placed in a way that you know exactly how the water will cascade off of the upper boulders and down to the rocks below. Going through this process of thinking how the water will flow off of spillways and the path it will take flowing through the rocks below is essential for designing a beautiful backyard waterfall.

Although this all may sound easy, there are some important factors to consider before you start:

  • How tall, wide and deep do you want your waterfall?
  • How many spillways will you have?
  • How big are your boulders?
  • What is your pump size?
  • Do you have a natural slope or retaining wall?
  • Where will your waterfall be placed for easy viewing?
  • How will you place your lights?

Remember, all of these items need to be decided before you start building a backyard waterfall as they all relate to one another. As you can see, designing a waterfall requires some initial planning, but these steps are critical to building a waterfall that looks aesthetically pleasing natural water feature.

Step 2: Consider Your Waterfall Dimensions Carefully

Waterfall dimensions are an important factor to designing a waterfall as the height and flow of water need to be appropriate for the pond and pump. A tall 5-foot waterfall just does not look that great flowing into a small 6 by 8-foot pond. The waterfall must be in proportion to the side slopes on either side of the waterfall. If the waterfall is too high in relationship to the side slopes, your backyard waterfall will look like a pyramid or narrow hill and will end up looking unnatural.

Of course, the size of the waterfall should also be proportional to the pond below. Typically a small waterfall flows into a medium sized pond and a large waterfall should have a larger sized pond. If you are not interested in installing a pond, you can also consider a pondless waterfall which simply recirculates the water back up to the waterfall spillway.

The depth of your backyard waterfall is another important factor. The waterfall depth determines how many cascades of water over spillways and large rocks that you are able to achieve. In general, the greater the distance from the top spillway to the pond or pondless basin, the more cascades, water direction changes and catch-pools can be incorporated into your waterfall design.

Want to learn more about building backyard waterfalls? See part 2 of this article “How to Build a Waterfall”.

A Backyard Waterfall Costs Less Than You Think

You will be surprised at how affordable a backyard waterfall and pond can be.

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!

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