Waterfalls are quite mesmerizing and have been a source of amazement and inspiration for as long as humans have been around to view them. We generally think of waterfalls as grand, natural wonders that only Mother Nature is capable of building. That is certainly the case of those falls on the scale of Niagara Falls, Yosemite Falls or any of the other waterfalls dotting the landscape along the Colorado River as it flows through the Grand Canyon. And to some extent this image is true. Waterfalls are natural wonders that have been created over millions of years of the geological evolution of our planet. There are many examples of man-made water falls but these pale in comparison to those just mentioned and chances are that there are many more of these grand falls hidden deep in forests only accessible and therefore visible to the most intrepid hikers and explorers. However, these creations of nature are just one type of waterfall and the soothing pleasures and therapeutic power of cascading water are not limited solely to these magnificent and powerful sites. With a little effort and a couple of dollars you can add a waterfall to your home landscape design and enjoy the existential pleasure and healing power of tumbling water.
Waterfall Building 101
Its not everyday that you decide to build a waterfall so don’t let the notion of doing so scare you away from the task. In its most simple form you’ll need to concentrate on two different parts of your waterfall when you get started. The first is the pool at the bottom of the falls and the second is the actual falls or cliff that the water will flow over. A backyard waterfall can be of any size or shape you’d like depending on your property and the look that you are going for in your overall design. The main concern for anyone building a waterfall in your home landscaping is generally the height of the falls. Sometimes and natural formation in your yard is the best place to build the falls because constructing one can be something of a chore and not nearly as sound structurally as an embankment or berm.
If you don’t have much experience with construction or if you’re one of those people who is better at “calling the guy” than grabbing the tool belt then perhaps you’re best bet in installing a backyard waterfall would be to “call the guy.” If this is the option you opt for you’ll find many landscape and design engineers who are experienced in all aspects of installing water features such as waterfalls. In California the people at California Waterscapes and Swimming Pools are a good place to start your search for expert assistance. Another place to find waterfalls that don’t require quite as much construction is OutdoorFountains.com. They have a tremendous inventory of attractive and functional waterfalls and fountains for the home landscaper.
If you’re hellbent on building the waterfall yourself let’s continue our discussion. Where were we? Oh yea, the size of the falls. Once you’ve figured out where the falls will go and how and where build the actual falls or tumbler as it were, the next thing you need to do is build, or dig out a pool under the falls. This pool will need a liner, a pump, and tubing to circulate the water and the liner should be a rigid, hard plastic liner, not simply a rubber pool liner because over time this type of liner will wear out and leak. You’ll want an electrician to run a separate line to your pump and that line should have a ground fault switch or GFI, which will provide you with a safety switch in the event of a short circuit.
We’ve kind of glossed over the hardest part of building a waterfall in your yard, the construction, because you should probably refer to help from an expert in the exact building plan and dimensions required for proper function and aesthetics. Once you have a plan that makes sense for your property it will be relatively easy to follow it step by step. The last things that you’ll want to add to your backyard waterfall are all of the trimmings, i.e. plants, shrubs, rocks. These things will comprise the visual beauty of the waterfalls while the cascading water is more sensual. You can use any number of different plants around your waterfall but always try to use those that are most at home in cool, humid surroundings. The rocks you choose for the inside areas of the waterfall are very important as well since those at the bottom of the falls should be strong, flat rocks that will disburse the water evenly throughout the pool.
At the end of the day the best way to proceed in getting your very own backyard waterfall is to weigh the costs between doing it yourself, having a landscape and waterscape design expert doing it, or simply buying a pre-fab waterfall that may very well accomplish your goals and desires at a fraction of the cost and without the headaches that doing it yourself almost always entails.