Adding a Waterfall To Your Garden Pond
Outdoor waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes and make for emphatic focal points. When mulling over your design options, the main consideration is how to achieve the necessary height and overall size for the waterfall. Too, you will need to select the type of stone or other material that will be used to construct the waterfall. Select materials that will fit in and compliment the surroundings.
Waterfalls can be simple or elaborate, designed to empty into a single pool or pond of water, originating from a flowing stream and falling through several tiers, or cascading dramatically from many feet above the ground. In planning to build outdoor waterfalls, you need to concentrate on two structures:
- The pool into which the water falls
- The cascading structure for the waterfall itself
Once these two structures are in place, you'll use a pump, inside or outside the pond to keep water recirculating from the pond to the top of your waterfall, where it can plunge back down splashing into the pond.
With the pond complete, that means one of the two structures is out of the way. Now it's time to turn attention to the more exciting structure: the cascade design itself. And that means taking a look at the rocks that will be used.
Designing The Waterfall
Size Matters- The size of your waterfall is something to be considered. Design your pond to match the size of your outdoor space; not too big, not too small. Accordingly, design your waterfall to match the size of the pond it will spill in to.
Materials - In building you waterfall, you should use top quality materials. The little extra money spent will save you future replacement costs and maintenance headaches in the future. The amount you will need to spend for construction will depend on the overall size of the pond and waterfall. Whatever you do, do not skimp on the pump that will generate the moving water over your waterfall and into the pond. To build a reliable and beautiful waterfall you will need the right rocks (in the right places) and lots of moving water.
Waterfalls can be constructed atop level ground by using the dirt dug from the pond to create a berm behind the pond. If you are lucky enough, your waterfall can be built into an existing slope on your property. Either way it will require some work. You will need to lay a flexible liner beneath the stones used to construct the waterfall. This liner should drape over the backside of the berm or go above the top rock on a slope and at the bottom should drape over the liner used in the pond so no water can escape.
Rocks For The Waterfall
The most important rocks are what might be termed the "spillway" rocks. "Spillway" means the rocks directly over which the water will cascade. In a cascade design you will use two or more rocks, one above the other, and so on, as indicated in the picture to the right.
You can use bricks or flat stones as spacers between the spillway stones in your waterfall. If these are visible after completion, you can hide them by placing smaller, natural stones in front of them
One alternative to using natural rocks placed atop a liner for a waterfall is to use pre-cast concrete forms that mimic stone for the cascading structure. They're compact and easy to install, but you'll have to decide if these look natural enough for your taste. They are not natural; enough for mine.
TIP: Before laying the liner you should stair-step the face of your berm for the waterfall. This will allow you to place the back edge of your flat cascade stones flatly. The front edge of the cascade stones can be held up and adjusted for water flow by placing small rocks or flat bricks between the cascade stones.