Create Waterfall Feature in Your Backyard





Introduction: Create Waterfall Feature in Your Backyard

About: I've had a lifelong interest in reducing my impact on the environment, (reducing my footprint so to speak). In my early 20's a few friends and I started a curbstop recycling project called Envirobox. This pr...

Do you have a corner in your backyard that needs a bit of sprucing up? Perhaps this might be the project for you, Rather than spend your allowance on a packaged waterfall from Home Depot that will run you in the $200-$300 mark if you buy it in the middle of summer, you might opt for something a little more unique that will cost yes less than half of the retail price. Some of the materials we used include railway ties to build a short wall, landscape ties to close off the waterfall area, one inch river rock, pea gravel, plastic sheeting, a water pump, a few 5 gallon pails and assorted rocks from a local landscaping firm. Have a gander at what we did and if you have suggestions or make one yourself, please send me a copy.

Step 1: Come Up With Your Idea

We must have sat and looked at the pile of rocks (see picture) for AGES. All I knew was that as it was an area close to the fence in the south east corner of my yard, nothing much grew there .

Step 2: Select Area for Waterfall and Create a Retaining Wall

We used old railway ties I purchased locally ($4) each and created a raised area. The ties were used against the fence(s) making sure they weren't right against the fence so that in the future if the fence requires repair we won't have to dismantle the entire thing. While you can't see from the picture we tapered off the ties to the left of the image so that it went from two ties down to one then to nothing..... The ties can be kept in place by hammering in rebar (but as ours was so low we didn't do that)

Step 3: Continue With Placing Ties Along the Fence to Provide a Boundary for the Gravel and Rock

We used a saw (pictured) to cut the ties, while not shown here we did remove the top most left hand tie before we proceeded. Note the big yellow pail? This will be important for future steps.

Step 4: Start Digging!

Here was the fun part, if you recall from the previous step I alluded to the pails being a reservoir for the waterfall. In order for the waterfall to drain into the pails they have to be below the highest point of the waterfall, Like a drain in a sink you want to make sure everything flows towards the pails. The best way to ensure this is to dig a hole to accommodate these pails. We used three pails but the more pails you use the larger the reservoir you will have. This will make sense in the coming steps, in the meantime grab a shovel and start digging at the point you wish to have the water pool when your waterfall is completed.

Step 5: Padding and Lining the Pond Area

We used leftover bubble wrap from the pool cover but you can use old carpeting, newspapers, this will prevent and rocks under the cushioning material from cutting through your pond liner. Pond liner is very expensive so you don't want to have a pesky rock cut the liner and then your pond/water feature drains. Once your cushioning material is in place you can then lay your liner overtop. A few options for pond liner are.... well pond liner.....which is expensive, something like $12 a foot and its only 3 feet wide. We used a thicker poly plastic that you could use as a vapour barrier when insulating home. It too has its pros and cons.

Step 6: Put Pails Into Hole (modify Pails First)

Before I start with this instruction I must tell you an important step. These pails have 12 holes drilled into each of them. These holes are half inch (1/2") wide and are interdispersed four drilled at the 3" mark, four at the 6" mark and four at the 8" mark. When you put the pails into the hole and backfill with 1" river rock the river rock cannot fall into the pails through the hole, however the water can seep into the hole to create a reservoir. The last thing you want to do is run a pump with no water. This ensures that won't happen. One of the pails that will house the pump has a notch near the top so that the electrical cable and pump hose can travel towards the top of the waterfall. All lids in place, all pails in the holes, now onto the next step.

Step 7: Complete the Enclosure for the Rocks Using Gardening Ties

We purchased a few gardening ties ($3-$4 each) and used them to close off the area to house the rock. Our handyman can be seen hammering in rebar into drilled holes in the rebar to secure the ties (don't use an axe like our demonstrator did, perhaps a large hammer will do). At the same time we filled the area with pea gravel, (very small round rocks approx 1/4" in diameter). We only used the plastic liner in the area that would be exposed to water, however you might consider placing some sort of landscape fabric in other area to prevent the growth of weeds pushing up from below.

Step 8: Run Electrical Line and Pump Hose to Top of Waterfall.

From pail containing the pump we ran the electrical and the pump hose up to the corner of our waterfall. The hose is hidden behind the back of the top rock and the electrical is also pulled to the top but then connects away from the water source. This is important as water and electricity don't mix.

Step 9: Now Place Your Larger Rocks in the Main Area

I tried to place the rocks so that they encircle the water area and tapered them off so that it appeared that the smaller rocks were at the edges. You might be able to see this in some of the pictures taken from a higher distance. Now the mistake we made which didn't really turn into a mistake as it was a plus in our situation. Here is Manitoba we get a lot of mosquities that breed in standing water. As we used the bubble wrap and the plastic sheeting there is a slow leak in our pond. Why is this a plus? No standing water for breeding insects and no bad smell for stagnant water. Also with a large dog he tends to enjoy laying in our pond on warm days.

Step 10: Plug in Your Waterfall Crack Open a Beer and Enjoy the Summer

As you might be able to see this pond slowly drains, luckily it is away from both houses and so far there has been no problems.



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    Actually I just purchased a new home with a lot of gardening and pond potential! I really like what you did on that corner wall but sometimes, it could be pretty difficult to find the right sized fountain to fit. Check out this site:

    It turns out there is a huge variety on the sizes of wall fountains. Definitely something to consider imo.

    That looks pretty good!

    Instead of the pails, you might consider a plastic storage box, like a 30+ quart size. I make a pond with two of these several years ago, and they've held up well. (no leaks)

    im not old enough. im just 16 but my parents left me with an old house which i own now. i wanted to decrate it.....o_O

    Oh, and I forgot to say you did a great job on your waterfall!!! I had to retype my comment and forgot to add that!

    I recently added a small pond and waterfall to the backyard. The pond is a bean shaped 4ftx2ft preformed pond with one end shallow. I used the following rock: 108 lb Chilton Flagtone for the base (similar to the base stone you used above) ~300 lbs of Holey Boulders (nice for allowing moss to grow and they have lots of levels that allow for interesting water misdirection) A few Red Mica and several granite boulders. I also used a 5 gallon bucket of Jumbo river rock in addition to small river rock that I already had plucked out of my yard over the years. I wish I had a river nearby so I didn't have to buy most of the rock, but in the end the rock was under $200, and I was expecting it to cost more. I used a 450 gph pump that runs the bubbler and the waterfall. I ran 5/8" tubing. Now I need to add landscape plants, water plants and maybe some fish. The plan is to add a short Japanese Maple on the left (to add shade) and some small evergreens behind. Flowers around the other sides. Enjoy!

    Pond Waterfall 1.JPGPond Waterfall 2.JPG

    I am thinking of installing a version of a pondless waterfall but my concern with this kind of design is that you have to do a fair amount of sifting through pea gravel to get to your pump.

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    Hello, I'm not very good when it comes to working with water but im working on a little miniature river that flows from one side to the other, then back to the starting side, i have two plexiglass cases i made (one for my geckos, one for my tarantula) What pump do i use? An air pump from an old aquarium? how do i set it up? please show me

    What size pump did you use

    Awsome i just moved up north to Illonois an my friends just purchased a new house that im going to live in with them ill show them this im sure they will love it an maybe try it out

    Cool indeedily. looks great, only wish I was old enough to own a yard (or indeed a house)

    Nice. I always wanted to do that...but I need a house first :)

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    After my first semester in college I dropped out and told everyone I was going to go off and make crazy fountains and waterfalls. I even studied some awesome fountains in Japan that were like Rube Goldberg devices, but artsy. And then I went back to become a math major. So it makes me happy to see other people playing with water. Nice job.

    That looks awesome -- and documented very well :)