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Do it Yourself Backyard Ponds & Waterfalls

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017
Do it yourself backyard ponds can be oases of delight.

Building backyard ponds and waterfalls can be an expensive professional landscaping project. Do-it-yourself water garden projects can save money and give you the specific style your yard needs. Quality materials and the proper tools will make the job simple.


Choose a location carefully for your backyard pond and waterfall. Sufficient sunlight is needed to have healthy pond plants and fish. Choose a location away from many trees to make digging easier. Accessibility to an electrical outlet is important. If necessary, you can bury a pipe and run an electrical cord through it to the pond and waterfall. Choosing the size of the water garden depends largely on what type of plants and fish you desire and how much maintenance you want to do.


Building a pond and waterfall requires either rigid or flexible sheet pond liner, rocks or paving stones for edging and waterfall construction, various hoses and tubes to attach pumps and filters and the hardware recommended for the volume and size of backyard water garden you intend to make.

Waterfalls can be constructed without a liner as long as you have flat rocks to run the water over before it falls back into the pond. There are plastic forms on the market for building waterfalls as well.

The Right Tools for Water Garden Building

The No. 1 tool necessary for building a quality water garden with waterfall is a shovel. If you intend to build a very large pond, you might want to rent a small backhoe or bulldozer from a hardware store to make the initial digging easier. A shovel, pickax and a strong rake are usually sufficient.

If you use a flexible pond liner, you can use a pair of sturdy sheers or a utility knife to cut off any extra. Screwdrivers may be necessary for attaching hose clamps to the filter and pump.

Construction Steps

Begin by digging out the entire pond and waterfall shape to the appropriate depth. Waterfalls don't always require digging at all as they are, by nature, usually raised with rocks or dirt off the ground.

Place the pond liner into the pond, using sub-liner or sand to support it as necessary. Push the flexible pond liner firmly into all curves of the pond and fold neatly. Hold the top edges secure with rocks or paving stones at this point.

Build the rise for the waterfall with a pile or soil of rocks. Do not forget to place the hose for the water up through the pile as you are building it. Position rocks in such a way that the pile looks natural and will not shift. Consider attaching them together with some form of adhesive or silicone sealant for added stability.

Attach all pumps and filters as required by their manufacturers and position them in the pond appropriately. Make sure the top of the waterfall hose bends forward to make the water flow out toward the pond. A large, flat rock or prefabricated piece will ensure the water flows correctly.

Complete the decorative edging of the pond with rocks or pavers or replace sod as desired. Fill the pond with water, turn on all pumps, wait for the waterfall to begin working and fill the pond the rest of the way to the top.

Landscaping Ideas for the New Backyard Pond

To make a natural-looking pond, plant moisture-loving perennials around the margins of the water garden. Plants that creep to cover the ground or trail over the edge will soften the look of stone or plastic edge. Using rocks for the waterfall instead of a plastic form over a pile of dirt will increase the natural beauty. Ground covers or vines can help prevent erosion.

Most importantly, hide or disguise any external pumps, filters and hoses with rocks and plants.


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