by Pool Builders on 09-13-2012 in Articles

When considering the design of a waterfall, careful evaluation of the site is necessary. The surrounding topography must relate to the water feature. How would water flow through the property naturally, or, what do we need to change to make a waterfall look as though it flows through the property naturally.

Grade changes are a perfect opportunity to create interest in the landscape. A slope on a property is an asset that should be used properly and not wasted. Digging out a slope to build a waterfall will provide for a larger cascade, but additional retaining will be necessary. On many waterfall projects retaining is necessary. How we decide to retain an area makes a big difference. Retaining walls divide up space. Often it is preferable to build a retaining wall that looks natural. This style of wall does not chop up the property but becomes part of the landscape. The introductions of plants add interest and intimacy.

Instead of using a conventional retaining wall on a project we can use natural rock ledges harvested and re-installed. This method of retaining enhances the project with many living spaces and plant pockets. The rock ledge appears to have been there before the house. Waterfalls can also retain the grade in stages, providing multiple cascades. Each level of a cascade can provide different interests and different planting environments. By building usable places in the garden we can lure a visitor into a unique space. This living wall is always evolving; each visit evokes a different experience.
Keep in mind that waterfalls should always fit into the landscape and the topography, rather than emerge out of a "water volcano." The viewer should believe that the waterfall has always been there.

1. Excavate waterfall area to the elevation of the pool beam or the edge of the pond.
2. Stabilize the building area. This is the most important part of the project. Depending on how heavy the waterfall installation, tamped soil, soil cement or a cement foundation may be necessary.
3. Slope toward the pond, this will prevent the water from running back under the waterproofing material.
4. Install waterproofing rubber. We do not recommend using cement because it cracks over time and leaks.
5. Arrange waterfall rocks on the rubber carefully as to avoid holes in the rubber.
6. Arrange the retaining rocks outside the rubber to retain the grade.
7. Install plantings.

If you would like to find out more on how to build a waterfall visit

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