How to Design & Build a Landscape Waterfall

Landscape waterfall image by 05-19-07 © Slobo Mitic/istock

Overview

The sound of running water is soothing and can add tranquility to any landscape. You can either pair a landscape waterfall with a pond or create one without a pond. These instructions describe how to design and build a waterfall without a pond.

Design a Landscape Waterfall

Step 1

Select the location for your waterfall. To enjoy your landscape waterfall throughout the year, locate at least a portion of the stream where it's visible from inside the house. Sound is equally important, so locate the waterfall and stream where you can hear it from the house.

Step 2

Decide on the dimensions of both the waterfall and stream: length, width, depth. The height of the waterfall's origin above the lowest point of the stream is referred to as "head." Along with the volume of water in your landscape waterfall system, head measurement and length of the stream from pump to waterfall will determine the strength of the pump you will need for your water feature.

Step 3

Calculate how much water the pump will need to move. In a pondless waterfall system, this will require two calculations. To determine how much water will be in the stream, multiply the length by width by depth by 7.48 (gallons of water per cubic foot of space). The result will equal the gallons of water in the stream. The reservoir containing the pump will not hold as much water as a pond of equal size, due to the rock filling the reservoir. Assume the rock will take up 60 percent of the volume, and add .40 into the calculation. Reservoir gallons = length x width x depth x .4 (40 percent) x 7.48. Clearwater Landscapes recommends the reservoir should hold three times the volume of water in the stream for the system to function well. Adjust your measurements until this ratio is closer.

Step 5

Purchase piping for your pump equal to the size of the outlet size on the pump. Mismatched pipe diameter -- for example, a one-fourth-inch pipe attached to a one-half-inch outlet -- will restrict water flow and reduce the lifespan of the pump. A larger diameter pipe and shorter pipe length will both increase the flow of your waterfall.

Build a Landscape Waterfall

Step 1

Dig a hole for your submersible waterfall pump well to your design specifications. If the pump does not come with its own vault, you can use a milk crate or other sturdy, porous box to hold the rocks at a distance from the pump to ensure submersion of the water-cooled pump.

Step 2

Line the hole and streambed with rubber pond liner material.

Step 3

Install your pump per manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4

Run the hose from the pump to the top of your waterfall. Attach to a weir (container), which you can either purchase or create at home, to the top of the hose, where the water will gather at the top of the waterfall before spilling over the lip of the spillway. Use non-toxic silicone sealant on the hose connections and secure with hose clamps.

Step 5

Bury the exposed length of hose or otherwise conceal from view.

Step 6

Fill the well around the pump vault with rock and decorate the streambed.

Step 7

Fill with water and run your landscape waterfall.

Things You'll Need

• Submersible fountain pump
• Flexible ribbed hose pipe
• Hose clamp
• Silicone sealant
• Rubber pond liner material
• Gravel/rocks

References

• Pond-free Waterfall Kits
• Water Pump Head; Garden Pond Pumps

Who Can Help

• Pond Waterfall
• Video: Make Your Own Waterfall Weir
• How to Measure the Water Fall Flow Rate; Practical Garden Water Solutions
Keywords: landscape waterfall, pondless system, head elevation