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How To Build A Waterfall In Your Backyard

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Waterfalls can completely change the way your backyard looks, creating a small paradise within the confines of your home. It can become a focal point, a place of peace, calm and beauty that can rejuvenate you and help you get away from the stress of daily life. Today, it is completely possible for you to create the perfect waterfall in your backyard, and here are a few tips that can help you with this project.

Types of Backyard Waterfalls

There are five different types of backyard waterfalls:

- Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless waterfalls are great if you have little children or pets and a small backyard. These water features have a lovely waterfall, but end in a reservoir that is filled with stones or rocks rather than a pond.

- Cascading Waterfalls

This is one of the most popular types of backyard waterfalls. These water features have one big drop that allows the water to flow into the reservoir or pond below.

- Multistep Waterfalls

These waterfalls are actually a series of steps over which the water flows before ending up in the pond or the reservoir. They can be as short or as tall as you desire and can look like rocky, bubbling brooks that you may find in the mountains.

- Rain Curtains

These are lovely little waterfalls that require minimal space. As the name suggests, a rain curtain is actually a series of thin lines of water droplets that fall straight down into the reservoir below. These types of waterfalls are perfect for backyards that aren’t much more than a patio or have a tiny garden space.

- Waterwalls

Like rain curtains, waterwalls require very little space. These are waterfalls that make little or no noise. They simple falls down a wall, one that is usually made of some kind of stone.

Planning for the Waterfall

The first thing you need to do before you even start digging is to plan. You need to plan your waterfall – the design, the layout, what you want it to look like, where it will be placed, how big it will be, and so on – before anything else. Here are a few key things you need to keep in mind while designing backyard waterfalls:

- Location

The first thing you need to decide is where in your backyard should your waterfall be. When choosing a location, keep in mind that it should be close to an electrical source since you will need to power your pump. Of course, you could opt for a solar-powered pump so that you don’t have to bother with electrical connections at all. If you want your waterfall to run night and day, then you will have to look at the added cost of having a battery pack to store extra power to run your water feature.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a spot for your waterfall is whether you would like it to be visible from inside your bedroom, living room, patio/deck, or any other spot in your home.

A backyard that has a slope is a great advantage since that will make it easier to build a waterfall. However, even if your backyard is flat, you can still build your water feature. You can simply use the soil you have dug up to create your stream/pond/reservoir to create your slope. And then, of course, you can use rocks to create your waterfall.

- Calling 811 – The Dig Safe Line

Before you finalize on a location, you will also need to call the Dig Safe Line to make sure that the spot you have chosen for your waterfall is not where your utility lines are. While some utility lines are already marked, there are many others that aren’t. So, it is best to call the service and find out where all the utility lines are before you start digging.

- Size

Once of the most important decisions you need to make while designing your backyard waterfall is the size it will be. Your waterfall should be in proportion to your backyard, the pond (if you’re planning on having one) and your home. If it is too big, it may look out of place, and if it is too small, it may just be swallowed up by the rest of the landscape.

- Style

This is where you can let your imagination go wild! Do you want a natural-looking waterfall? Or are you looking at something more modern? Do you want a pond, or just a kind or a stream? You can, of course, go through magazines, Pinterest, the internet and so on to find the design that you like best.

If you’re planning on going for the natural look, then you need to select the stones and rocks you will use with care. The way these rocks are placed will determine your waterfall’s character. Depending on how these rocks are placed, you can have rapids in your stream. You can even have a frothy churn at the bottom of your fall if you place a big (relative to your waterfall, that is!) boulder there. If you want to have a curtain effect (behind which you can place a beautiful piece of sculpture), you can place a rock at the top of your fall as an overhang. There is so much you can do with these rocks!

It would be a great idea to make an outline of your waterfall on the actual spot before you start work on it. This way, you will know whether you have gotten the scale and design right before you start digging up your backyard.

- The Submersible Pump

We also need to talk about the submersible pump you will need to get your waterfall going. Without this piece of equipment, your waterfall will not be complete.

While we have talked about using an electric or solar-powered pump, we need to talk about how powerful that pump needs to be to keep the water in your waterfall flowing easily and continuously.

However, this decision can only be made once you have decided how big or small your waterfall will be. Based on that decision, you can choose how powerful a pump you will need to get. The power of a pump is based on the GPH (Gallons Per Hour) that it can move at a specific height. It is best to buy a pump with more power than you actually need so that you know that it will do the job.

Also consider the material that pump will be made of. The best pumps are made of brass, bronze, or stainless steel.

- Budget

And finally, let’s talk money! Based on your budget, you may decide to hire a professional or do it yourself. If you’re going the professional route, then you can design your backyard waterfall, agree on a budget, and leave the details to your landscaper.

If you’re going it alone, then the style and design will depend on how confident you are about building this waterfall by yourself and what your budget for the materials and tools is. This is something that you will have to address right at the beginning of this project. Start by setting your budget. And then see what you will need to buy and what you can find (like the rocks, gravel, plants and so on).

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