How to build a water feature: Building the waterfall

 

Building the waterfall

Building the waterfall





 If you really benefited from this website, consider making a small donation. :)

Once you’ve completed building the pond, you get to the tricky part- unless, of course, you’ve opted for the easier way out: making use of waterfall kits.

You would like to build something that looks like a natural waterfall, for which you would need natural rocks. They are not only heavy, but hard to handle as well. On top of this it’s really rather hard to get the water cascading from such a structure without water spilling somewhere. 

You can go to How to build a complex water feature  to see how I did that.

For the project under discussion I have used natural slate, which makes building the waterfall very easy.

The waterfall consists of 3 spillways (layers of slate). Every spillway is separated from the next one by means of 5.5 cm wide strips of slate (2 layers, 7 cm thick), as can clearly be seen in the picture. 

These strips have been placed at the edges of each layer (except at the front where the water will be cascading to the next level) and fixed with cement used for tiling. The main reason for this is to make absolutely sure that not a drop of water can find its way over the edges and out of the pond. So, even if the water does gather on one of the layers while the water is cascading down, there will be no spilling. (In How to build a simple water feature I solved the problem in another way.)

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Step 1: The bottom spillway  of the waterfall

The bottom layer of the waterfall is the most important one.  You have to get it right if you don’t want the rest to be a struggle.  The first challenge is to have the bottom layer as far as possible protruding/hanging over the pond.  You have to do this to prevent water from spilling. Water has a funny way of clinging to the bottom of a rock and finding a way over the side of the pond!

Slate is excellent for this, since they are all flat and you get real big ones. You get a big one and place it on the one corner as far as possible over the pond.

Remember that the water will cascade from the top layers onto this one from which it will fall into the pond. Using a level make sure that this piece of slate slants slightly towards the water.

Step 2: The second spillway

The second layer is slightly smaller than the bottom one, to ensure that the water cascades from this one onto the bottom one (and from there into the pond). If the level of the bottom layer is slightly slanting towards the pond, this one should do that as well (automatically), but just make sure that is indeed the case.

Step 3: The top spillway

For the top layer I had something special in mind. I wanted this layer to be a space for the birds to bathe, which means I had to make a weir, causing the water to “dam up” before spilling over and cascading down to the next level.  I used the three layers of slate strips all around the edges of the top layer (10 cm thick in total), but only 1 layer at the front (3 cm thick) to create a weir where the water overflowed and cascaded down. 

At first the birds bathed only after I switched off the pump (late afternoon)  or early in the morning before I switched on the pump.  I suppose the turbulence caused by the water being pumped into the top layer spooked them. Eventually they grew accustomed to that and now they’re taking baths throughout the day. Sometimes it gets quite crowded in there! What a sight to see!

Posted in 3 rd step: Building waterfall | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Building the pond of the water feature

I will describe how I built the water feature in this picture – one of the three I made in our garden. A water feature consists of a pond and a waterfall. Obviously, it could only consist of a pond, but the ones I’m talking about have waterfalls as well. A bit more of a challenge, but much more rewarding. I will firstly deal with the construction of the pond and then the waterfall.

The pond

I will tell you how I built the water feature in the picture and then leave it to you to decide where and how you want to change. The one I’m referring to is a “slate-based pond”.

Material you need for the pond: (For all the product links to Amazon, please go to “What you need“)

Unless you decide to go for a full waterfall kit, you’ll need the following to build the pond:

  1. Building blocks  for re-enforcement of the pond sides
  2. Pond underlayment: This is a thickish type of material that goes into the dug-out hole first to protect the PVC/polyurethane lining from being pierced by anything sharp in the hole, like sharp little stones. Pond underlayment comes in different sizes, so you have to make sure that you have enough. A wide variety is available at Amazon. 
  3. Pond liners (black polyurethane/polyethylene/PVC): They not only come in different sizes (in sq. feet), but also in different thickness (in mils). Make sure you get one big enough to cover not only the hole, but also the sides and the area where you want to put your rocks (as in the image below). You can get any size and thickness at Amazon, but rather go for the thicker ones (30+ mils).

Step 1: Digging the hole

Once you have identified the best spot for the water feature, you start by digging the hole. Keep it simple. Too much curves will complicate the matter too much. Once the pond is completed, you can easily create curves and interesting nature-imitating coves by the way you put the rocks and plants. The form of the pond under discussion is more a semi-circle, 1.4 m wide, 1.65 m long.

Depth:  Simply divide the pond in two and make the one end, where the submersible pump will go, deeper. This will ensure that the pump will stay submersed even if the water level is low. If you intend having the water topped up by means of a ball valve (or something similar), you need not dig the one end deeper.  In my pond I dug the deep end 47 cm deep and 40 cm  at the shallow end. That is measured to the edge of the pond; the water is 40 cm deep where the pump is and 20 cm at the shallow end.

Why a shallow end?: You will place some plants in pots inside the pond and you complicate matters if the pond is too deep. Water filtering plants can go into the deep end. It is also necessary to make it easy for little frogs to get out of the water if they want to and you can easily do that by creating a sort of a rock ramp out of the water at the shallow end. It will also be the place where wild animals (if you are lucky enough to have them in your area) will enter the water for a drink.

Finally, make the bottom of each level as level as possible. This will simplify the next steps of the construction.

Step 2: Re-enforcing the hole

 You have to re-enforce the sides first. This is not only for ensuring stability on the sides, but also for providing a firm base onto which the rocks can be placed without fear of collapsing walls. The easiest way is to do that with building blocks, but then you have to compensate for the loss of volume by making the hole bigger.  

Make sure the top edges are perfectly level and also a few centimeters above the surrounding ground, to ensure that no muddy water enters the pond in heavy showers. You also have to secure the “wall” of the higher level with a row of building blocks, as can be seen in the photo.

Step 3: Putting in the underlayment

What about sharp little pieces of stones in the bottom and sides of the hole? Once they have all been removed, you line the whole hole with underlayment (A wide variety is available at Amazon. ). You could use cardboard in stead, as in the picture. 

This will ensure that no sharp little stones will punch holes in the PVC lining.

Step 4: Lining the hole with plastic (PVC/polyurethane/polyethylene)

The 20-40 mil thick (black polyurethane/polyethylene/PVC) plastic comes in different sizes (any size and thickness at Amazon), so you have to make sure it’s big enough. Cover the whole area with plastic and immediately start filling the hole with water. The weight of the water will help you to smooth the plastic out. Make sure the lining covers the edge of the pond completely.  

In the final touches you will place the rocks on the edge of the pond, which will be covered by the plastic.

In the next post building the waterfall will be discussed.

Posted in 2 nd step: Building the pond | Tagged | 2 Comments

What you need to build a water feature


If you’re going to build the water feature all by yourself, you will need a some stuff to do that, like a submersible pump, pond lining etc. The links to these have been included down below. Some people prefer to go for the easier option – building the water feature with a kit. You will get more info on this at the post “Building the water feature using kits”. 

 Pond underlayment:

This is a thickish type of material that goes into the dug-out hole first to protect the PVC/polyurethane/polyethylene lining from being pierced by anything sharp in the hole, like sharp little stones. Pond underlayment comes in different sizes, so you have to make sure that you have enough. A wide variety is available at Amazon. 

 

Pond liners (black polyurethane/polyethylene/PVC):

They not only come in different sizes (in sq. feet), but also in different thickness (in mils). Make sure you get one big enough to cover not only the hole, but also the sides and the area where you want to put your rocks (as in the image below). You can get any size and thickness at Amazon, but rather go for the thicker ones (30+ mils).

Submersible pumps:

A wide variety of submersible pumps are available at Amazon.

Small: Beckett 7060310 535 GPH Submersible Pump

Smart Solar Infinity 600 gph Magnetic Drive In-Line/Submersible Pump

Medium:

Wayne Submersible Utility Pump – 1740 GPH, 1/5 HP, 1 1/4in., Model# VIP15

EcoPlus 2245 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Smart Solar Infinity 2250 gph Magnetic Drive In-Line/Submersible Pump

EcoPlus 3170 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Large:

EcoPlus 4950 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Cal Pump Magnetic Drive Waterfall Pump – 5200 GPH, Model# PWM5200

Piping etc.

All you need in tubing, stainless steel clamps, ball valves and float valves are available at Amazon.

Extra pond filters:

You could consider one of the following to support the built-in filter of the submersible pump:

Mechanical pond filter

UV pond filter

Biofilter

Combination of more than one type.

Posted in 6: Overview of what you need to build the water feature | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pump specials at Amazon

Amazon always has specials on offer and these include pumps. Just click on the heading and watch them go by!


Posted in 6: Overview of what you need to build the water feature, 7: SPECIAL DEALS on pumps at Amazon | Leave a comment

“Landscaping4Home”, by Christina Peterson

Landscaping4Home  is a package by Christina Peterson, a professional landscaper form Wasington DCon landscaping gives you access to 4250 landscape ideas, with 64 galleries and 4250 pictures included. It is an excellent start to planning your garden water feature.  
A special section exclusively on water feature ideas are included as well, so this will help a lot to get you going and also when you have to add the finishing touches to your hard work.

On top of it some excellent bonusses are currently included, so hurry!

Posted in BOOKS on How to build a water feature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The plumbing of the water feature

 Once you’ve made your primary decisions, built the pond and done the waterfall, the plumbing of the water feature comes next: the easy part. All you need is soft black (class 3) pipe (tubing) and a few plastic “elbows” and stainless steel clamps.  Remember that you will have to clean the filter of the submersible pump (See post: “What you need to build a water feature“) from time to time. This means that you’ll have to place the pump somewhere where you can easily reach it. In my case the pipe swivels around the last elbow taking the pipe over the edge of the pond to the pump. So whenever I need to clean the filter, I just “swivel” it out at the last elbow. This also means that the electric wire going to the pump has to go in there as well, otherwise the wire might prevent you from “swiveling” the pump out!

The pipe goes around the back of the waterfall and is concealed /camouflaged by rocks and plants, then straight up at the back of the waterfall and into the top layer with an elbow. The incoming water is forced downwards into the top layer by another elbow  to prevent spilling. It is concealed by a piece of slate, which has been removed for this picture.

Float valve: How do you intend topping up the pond? You can make it very easy for yourself by linking in to the high pressure plumbing network at your place and then adding a float valve or something similar in the pond.  The easier way is simply to do the topping up yourself, using a hose pipe. Then you have to check the water level once a week and make sure the level is where it should be. If you have water lilies in your pond, you have to watch the level all the time, since they do not like the level to drop too low. In the case of the water feature under discussion,  I concealed it between the shrubs and took it right back to the nearest tap, where I connect it from time to time and top up from there. In another system I tapped into my existing high pressure network and enjoy an automatic topping up by means of a small float valve.

Ball valve: Adding a waste tap (ball valve is a good idea. Ideally one should insert one at the bottom of the pond leading out beneath the wall of the pond, but chances of leakages are rather big, so I suggest you don’t do that. However, the second best idea (with no chances of leakages) is by adding one at the back of the waterfall . You can insert a plastic “T”-connection anywhere where convenient (see picture above).  If you do need to empty the pond this will help a lot.

Pond filters

All submersible pumps have built-in filters (which needs cleaning from time to time). However, an extra filter is recommended to curb floating algae and to help keeping the water cristal clear. You have a choice between mechanical filters, UV filters and biofilters. Mechanical filters are imperative when you have a big problem with leaves dropping into the pond. Biofilters and UV filters are necessary for dealing with algae and keeping the water clear. Some products are a combination of more than one type.

Posted in 4 th step: The plumbing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ultimate Koi Pond and Fish Product – The Pond Code

Building a water feature is but one step away from adding fish – koi in particular – to the pond. If you had this in mind right from the start, you might have planned your water feature differently. Even if you do not have that in mind, it might be useful to accommodate the idea. You never know what the future has in mind once your water feature is in place and working its magic.  With this in mind I’m promoting The ultimate Koi Pond and Fish Product – The pond code : All about pond building with koi in mind.

This product consists of six components:

1-2.  The pond code book, along with Insider audio interview;

3-4.  Ultimate Koi pond book, along with Entire audio version of the book in MP3 format;

5.  Build the perfect pond book;

6.  Affordable super effective pond filter.

Incredibly all this are currently going for $24.17. How long this discount is going to last, I don’t know.

Posted in BOOKS on How to build a water feature | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to Build a Water Feature: Primary decisions

A complex garden water featureAdding a water feature to your garden just takes it to a level you haven’t though would be possible. It just adds something really special – something you see in garden magazines.  In this article I will show you the easiest way to construct your own water feature, your own natural waterfall.

This is something anybody can do.  I made my own water features, so you can learn from my experience. It’s really not that complicated and – as a matter of fact, not that expensive either. Before even thinking of building the pond  and the waterfall, you have to make some primary decisions.

 

Primary decisions

Where to place the water feature: This decision is of utmost importance, since it cannot be undone. Once you’ve constructed your water feature, it cannot be removed (without destroying it). So you have to give it a lot of thought.

Complex water feature with two ponds, weir and waterfall

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Focal points: Focal points are areas of emphasis in your garden, areas which draw the attention of the beholder.  The water feature is a real eye catcher. Anything that offers interest through size, shape or color will serve as a focal point. The water feature will inevitably become a  (or even the) focal point in your garden.

So where do you want to create this focal point? This everyone has to decide for himself, but things like the size of your garden, entrance to your property, position of your front door or patio, swimming pool etc. will all have to be considered.  You don’t want to put it in a place where nobody can see it instantly – unless you have a very big garden and want to create a special, reclusive spot, with a garden bench where you can sit and be mesmerized by the tranquility of flowing water.  You might be irritated by a dull spot in your garden. Consider putting the water feature right there! The water feature should also be integrated into the garden – as if it has always been there. Otherwise the part of the garden in its vicinity should be integrated with it.

We have three water features in our garden. The one where you enter our property, but facing the house, the second one near our front door, impossible not to see or hear and the third one facing our living room.

This picture was taken from our living room on the second storey, overlooking the ravine in which our house has been built.

It’s impossible not to see it the moment you look  towards the ravine.

Orientation of the water feature: The water feature should be facing your house or the point from where you would like it to be seen. You wouldn’t like the waterfall to cascade away from the viewing point.  I have three water features in my garden. My house is situated in a natural ravine, sloping towards our house on the side where the street goes, so I used the natural slope of the ground to create the waterfall facing our house. On the opposite side of the house the slope is away from the house towards the ravine.  In my first attempt ever I built a waterfall using the natural slant of the ravine, but then realized that the water would cascade away from the house. Even from the top storey  we would hardly see the cascade.  So I had to create some height on the opposite side to have the cascade part facing our home, as can be seen in the picture.

How big a water feature do you want? The size of your garden will determine how big the water feature should be. Well, it will restrict you:  You could have a small water feature in a big garden, but hardly a big one in a small garden.

How much cascading height and volume of water are you planning for? This will determine how powerful the pump will be. The specifications on all pumps include the volume of water the pump is capable of circulating at what height. You will notice that the volume drops as the height increases, so you will have to give this a good thought as well. You don’t want to end up with a trickle of water you can barely see (buying a pump not capable of dealing with the height), or a mass of water thundering down a structure which is way too small. A powerful pump does give you options which a small pump cannot do. If you have too much power, you can divert the water and create more than one waterfall.

A wide variety of submersible pumps are available at Amazon.

Small: Beckett 7060310 535 GPH Submersible Pump

Smart Solar Infinity 600 gph Magnetic Drive In-Line/Submersible Pump

Medium:

Wayne Submersible Utility Pump – 1740 GPH, 1/5 HP, 1 1/4in., Model# VIP15

EcoPlus 2245 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Smart Solar Infinity 2250 gph Magnetic Drive In-Line/Submersible Pump

EcoPlus 3170 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Large:

EcoPlus 4950 GPH Submersible Water and Hydroponic Pump

Cal Pump Magnetic Drive Waterfall Pump – 5200 GPH, Model# PWM5200

In the case of the slate waterfall which will be discussed, the pump is doing 4000 liters per hour (1060 gph) and the height from the pump to the top of the waterfall is 1.0 meter.  The small slate waterfall (“Zen”) is 1750 liters per hour( 462 gph), height: 1 meter and the pump in the case of the complex system is 7000 liters per hour (1850 gph), height: 1.5 meters.

Electric or solar or even dry? For a waterfall you need a water pump, which could be either electric or solar. If you choose the solar one, you will be restricted in a number of ways: The volume of water is small compared to what the electric ones can do and the solar one will only operate if the solar cells are directly exposed to sunlight, so a solar driven water pump will have to be placed in such a place that it gets maximum exposure to sunlight. This also means that your choice of plants around the feature is also restricted.  You wouldn’t like your plants around the water feature to shed a shadow on the solar cells, causing the pump to stop pumping? Finally, some people prefer a water feature without water, like a dry river bed. Quite nice as well, but not like the real thing.

Posted in 1 st step: Primary decisions | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to build an easy, simple water feature

If building a water feature the way I described in the other posts is too much of an effort to you, but you would still like to have a water feature, this post might be just what you’re looking for. The water feature in the picture is the one I’m about to discuss and the one in the Youtube video clip. Really not difficult to build and a DIY project anyone can try.

Building  the pond:

In this case I haven’t dug a hole, as would be the normal thing to do. I simply packed a few building blocks in a semi-circle, made sure they are level at the top and re-enforced this “wall” with soil and at the outside. I then lined the pond with cardboard (in stead of ordinary pond underlayment) and then covered the hole with pond liner.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Building the waterfall:

 I built the pond right next to a retaining wall 3 feet high, using the retaining wall as one of the walls of the pond. I intended using this wall to construct the waterfall against. I made four shelves from aluminum and fixed that to the retaining wall. Then I put slate on each shelf and ended up with a four tiers/spillways waterfall. On top of the retaining wall I created an extra small spillway in such a way that the water, which is pumped right up to that point could cascade from there right down onto the waterfall structure below. I used a small submersible pump, only 450 US GPH, to get the “exotic” type of effect I was looking for.

Adding the finishing touches:

Finally I camouflaged the wall of the pond with poles as can be seen in the picture and the video clip and finished the edges off with slate. Then I put in some plants straight into the pool and planted some around the pool as well. As you can see in the video, the water feature is fully integrated into the surrounding garden. Although small, it still gives us a lot of pleasure and being located right where you enter our property, it catches the eye immediately.

Posted in How to build a simple water feature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Building a water feature using kits



If building your own water feature or a natural waterfall in your garden seems to be just too big a challenge, don’t despair!   There’s a wide variety of complete kits available at Amazon. Some kits cover only a certain part of the water feature, like the weir/skimmer (which will be discussed later), but the selection I made covers the whole water feature. I selected a few just to give you an idea of what’s available at Amazon:

Small:

The pump volume per hour is less than 1000 gallons: 

1.  Clear Pond Complete In-Ground Backyard Pond Kit – 4ft. x 6ft. x 18in. Deep, Model# 71104      (The one in the image)

2. Beckett Rock Look Waterfall Kit (7137010)  (400 GPH)

3. TE659 Tetra Pond Submersible Pump, Fountain & Waterfall Kit  (750 GPH)

 

 

Medium:

The pump volume per hour is less than 3000 gallons:

1.  Sunterra 370012 Sunterra Waterfall Gardens Complete Pond Kit, Two Ponds With Waterfall  (1250 GPH)

2.  Mini Cascading Waterfall Kit  (1800 GPH)

3.  Atlantic Water Garden FilterFalls & Skimmer Value Bundle – Includes FREE 2,100 GPH Waterfall Pump  (2100 GPH) 

Large:

1.  Pondless Waterfall Kit   (3000 GPH) The vaux rocks are so natural, you will not be able to see the difference unless. This is also a “pondless” waterfall, meaning that the water disappears into a tub covered with little stones or pebbles, from where it is circulated back to the top of the waterfall.

2.  30″ Cascade Kit by PondBuilder   (7500 GPH)

 

 

Posted in Easy option: Building a water feature using kits | Tagged , , | Leave a comment