Many people ask us how to build a waterfall. As the #1 expert waterfall builder in Los Angeles we are happy to share some waterfall building tips for you to consider when building a waterfall. Of course, if you are not quite sure what you are doing it is always best to consult an expert waterfall builder and we are always here to help.
Tip: 1 Waterfall Design
It is important that your waterfall fits in with the surrounding garden landscape. If you your backyard is mostly flat then a waterfall popping up out of nowhere will not look natural. You can make your waterfall look more natural by building
a berm such as a raised bank, small hill, or ledge around the waterfall.
Often times people make the mistake of building a large waterfall for a small pond which can look unnatural. Small ponds should have small waterfalls which will help keep everything in proportion. If you want a larger waterfall consider building a wider waterfall rather than a taller one since it will look more natural and fit in better with a smaller pond.
Tip 2: Waterfall Placement
Think about placing the skimmer of your waterfall near an electrical outlet. You will want the lower basin skimmer, which sends water back up to the top of the waterfall, to be located no further than 10 feet from an electrical outlet so that you do not have an unsightly electrical cord running across your beautiful garden landscape.
Tip 3: Choosing a Pump
Remember that a pump has to work harder to pump water uphill so your GPH (gallons per hour) will be different depending on the elevation gain. Measure this carefully before you buy a waterfall pump. A good waterfall pump should have an easy to read chart which shows the pump’s effectiveness over different heights.
Tip 4 : Controlling Water Loss
A pond liner is critical to controlling water loss. Measure out and place a waterfall liner that stretches the entire distance of the waterfall and lower basin. When placing the liner be sure to leave some slack at the bottom so as to avoid rips or liner piercings as the liner stretches when water is added.
Tip 5: Create a Naturalistic Start
Many garden waterfalls are constructed with biological filter boxes at the top. These filter boxes should be concealed by rocks and plants while still leaving plenty of room for access and waterfall maintenance. One idea is to have the start of your waterfall resemble a still pool as if the water is rising from an underground spring.
Tip 6: Create a Naturalistic Flow
Consider burying large spill rocks that make up your waterfall. The idea is to make the rocks look as though they are emerging from the earth forming a natural waterfall, not just plopped on top of the earth. Also remember that the steeper the slope the faster the water will run and the louder the waterfall will sound.
Tip 7: Rockwork
Waterfalls generally contain three different sized rocks; boulders, medium sized rocks and pebbles. If possible, visit a rock yard or gravel and stone yard to see the rocks in person so you can get a better idea of what kind of rocks will fit into your garden landscape.
When placing rocks, start from the bottom up, placing large boulders first. Placing boulders around and behind the actual beginning of the waterfall is a great way to give your waterfall dimension and a more natural appearance. When designing a waterfall periodically step away and look at the waterfall from a distance and from different angles to see how the placement of rocks work with the surrounding landscape.
Tip 8: Spillway Rocks
Try to use large mostly flat rocks for the spillway to help keep it more stable and always measure the slope of your spillway with a level. This is important because you want your spillway rocks to be either level or sloped slightly downward. For a wider waterfall you will want the water to travel evenly over the entire surface. Slate can make for an excellent spillway rock and provides more even water flow.
Test with running water as you build to make sure that the water is running in the right direction, and adjust any rocks as necessary to get the flow just right. If you are working with a large group of rocks use mortar to help keep them in place. Make sure to place pebbles along all sides and under spillway stones and then apply waterfall foam sealant into the gaps so the water will flow only over the spillway.
Tip 9: Focus on Sounds
The best part of having a garden waterfall is the joy of listening to the tranquil sound of flowing water. Pay attention to the sounds and volume of water as it hits rocks and splashes into pools. A cascade of water pouring off a rocky ledge into rocks below resonates differently than a light stream trickling around large rocks and flowing into a deep pool. Think about installing a pump that allows for flow control in order to adjust the water flow, volume and sound.
Tip 10: Consider a Pondless Waterfall
Pondless waterfalls are ideal for those who want the sights and sounds of a waterfall but do not want the maintenance associated with a pond. A pondless waterfall can give your garden an impressive waterfall using less space. Plus it can be convenient to be able to turn a pondless waterfall off for extended periods which can save you electricity and water loss.