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Tips for Designing & Building a Waterfall

If you already have a backyard pond, why not spruce it up a bit and give it some charming character and soothing sound by adding a small, natural waterfall? Waterfalls make beautiful accents to backyard ponds and can dramatically increase both the visual appeal of your pond as well as soothing you with the gentle sound of trickling water. Many people think that building a small waterfall is difficult; however it is actually quite easy. It does involve a bit work and some fairly heavy lifting, so you may need to get some helpers to help you with the project. It also helps if you don’t mind getting dirty and wet while installing it since you will get better results if you are willing to enter the pond if necessary when building the waterfall.

Waterfalls can be built from a variety of materials and in a number of different ways; however one of the most beautiful types of waterfall is a natural looking waterfall constructed of stone. Stone will blend beautifully with your landscaping and look natural and as if it belongs there, making it a great choice for a backyard waterfall. Not only that, but often times you can find the stone to build your waterfall for free laying around your property so it can be a low or no cost way to add a waterfall to your pond.

If you don’t have rocks on your property you can purchase them from a brickyard in your area. Try to find large flat rocks that will give your waterfall stability. Also collect some other rocks in varying shapes and sizes. Nature isn’t uniform so you want to give your waterfall some variety to make it look more natural and less planned. It is a good idea to gather more rocks that you think you will need so that you have a good selection to choose from once you start building and can quickly find the perfect rock to fit in a particular space.

In addition to your rocks, you will need a pump to run the water from your pond up over your waterfall and some tubing to deliver the water. Choose a pump that is appropriately sized for both your pond and the waterfall that you are building.

Many people make the mistake of building too large of a waterfall for their pond and it comes out looking awkward and like it doesn’t really belong. Small ponds should have small waterfalls to keep everything in proportion. If you want a larger waterfall try building it wider rather than taller since it will look more natural and fit better with your pond.

To begin building your pond, decide which side of the pond you want it located on. Once you have picked the location start by choosing a large flat rock and placing it at the edge of your pond over the surface of your liner. You need to make sure that the water will drain the right way off your rock so that it goes into your pond rather than running off the back, so run some water over it using your pump and tubing. You may need to shim the back of the rock to angle it toward your pond and get the water running the right direction. Your entire waterfall should lean a little toward the pond and by starting out with your base slightly angled it will aid in keeping the rest of the waterfall in proper alignment.

Continue adding rocks to your waterfall making sure each rock is stable. Try to use mostly flat, large rocks for the main functioning section of the waterfall since this will help it to be more stable. You don’t want your waterfall to tip over so as you are building be sure to check it for stability and make any adjustments as necessary. You can add smaller, rounder rocks as accents either on the edges or within the waterfall itself as you go to give it some variety and a more natural look. Continue testing with the water as you build to make sure that the water is still running in the right direction, and shim any rocks as necessary.

Once your waterfall has reached the height that you want, run your tubing around the back of it and up to the top. Place a large rock or two on the hose to hold it in place. To help the water spread out and run more naturally down your waterfall rather than in a skinny stream, try placing a small rock in front of the opening of the hose to divert the water. Lastly, choose some great plants to landscape around your waterfall and help hide your hose. Large plants can provide a beautiful backdrop to your waterfall and help to increase the natural feeling.

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