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A Waterfall Installation Guide  January 17, 2008

The idea of installing a large water feature with multiple falls can seem like a daunting task, but actually can add a natural element to almost any landscape.

Pondless waterfalls may be an excellent choice for those clients with small children where safety is a concern or where space is limited. In addition, since the water flows into the ground there is no need for additional maintenance without any plant or animal life and the pump does not need to run constantly.
Different landscapes will affect the end design of the waterfall. A level area within the landscape will require a built-up slope to accommodate the waterfall’s height. As far as height is concerned, try to keep the waterfall at eye level and in proportion with the surrounding landscape.


Selecting and preparing a location is the first step in getting your water feature to be the desired shape and size. Debris should be removed from the excavation site and the area must be leveled and raked smooth. The ground may need to be packed to prevent the soil from shifting. Then an elevated area should be formed with the excess soil to make a mound for the waterfall. If the location has a steep slope, the waterfall can also be created uphill to create a series of falls. Make the spillway so that it flows into the main pond. Steps in the mound of soil should be created for the waterfall and the different tiers should be kept close together.

Use a liner to cover the pond area. Sometimes two liners are recommended, one to contain the water and a second to channel the water towards the falls. The liner should overlap and be secured even under the stones in the spillway, to prevent water loss when the waterfall is working. If extra support is needed for the larger, heavy stones, add a layer of sand beneath the liner for extra cushioning.

Pump Choice

When selecting the right size pump it is important to consider both the vertical and horizontal distance that the pump will be pushing water. The pump should be large enough to service both the pond and waterfall. Once a pump is chosen, submerse it at the furthest point from the waterfall. You can cover the tubing inside the pond with small stones or gravel to hide it from view.
The edges of the liner can be anchored with large builders. Irregular boulders are natural looking and should be set in an upright position with the most appealing side facing outward.

The last step in a waterfall installation is to landscape the surrounding areas. There are many options to examine, such as moisture-loving plants, gravels, moss-covered rocks and animals. Groundcover can fill in areas between the stones and pockets of soil in between the boulders and can support plant life.

Water Facts

40: Dollars, the approximate cost of a horse-watering trough, which can be used in the construction of a pondless waterfall. This trough is buried in the ground and filled with soil that should be elevated about four inches above ground.
8 to 10: Inches, the width of PVC that should be used to cover pumps used in pondless waterfalls.

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