building a cascade/waterfall?

mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))July 20, 2014


so the image is of the area I'd like to put the waterfall/cascade.

firstly fishh in tank as had to empty pond and clean it! (family dumping normal mud in! >:-(

so the area is half shade full sun depends on time of day and the season.
I'd love to do a lumbard street type thing (that curvy street in San.Fran )
I would like to raise it up, maybe 3-5ft high, but I don't know. but I have a 10x10 ft spare pond liner I can use to water proff the fence,
mum originally Wanted a triangular pond but I couldn't do that so maybe no she can have a triangle'ish' pond.

how will I get the water up top, well I was going to pump pond through the filter (through uv filter thwn partial filter) abd pump it to the top and down that way, though a small bog? or into cascade pools that can have say a lotus in one and weeds in other abs pond snails and that sorta thing.

I have read that it coming towards ypu is best but if I was to do that it will be in complete shade, I don't know what type of style, but I love those moss balls, maybe a woodland like effect?

basically I'm after things that I need to consider, any problems I may have and need to sort, and how to build the mound (I have loads of soil from garden, bits of old tree and wood bed frames, plastic storage boxes and a few other things.)

any advice is great but I don't want to do a simple waterfall I want something I can be proud of.

thank uou


more images to come

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mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))

that's the other part.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:17AM
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mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))

and that's another view.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:19AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

Waterfalls are more art than technique imo. So I think when a creative feature is wanted like yours you really have to try different things, expect to pull it down and try again, to get it just the way you want.

But here are some basics...

I like to use concrete blocks or bricks to build the foundation. The better the foundation the less risk of issues down the road. So removing the sod first helps. Digging down past topsoil helps more. Digging down below frost line helps more. Pouring a reinforced concrete pad below frost line is best. How far you go is up to you. The wider the base compared to height the more stable the structure will be so the less risk so less foundation might be needed. If the structure is more like a tower the more important the foundation.

Soil can be used but it does slump and erode over time. It's best when you have a wide area and it depends on the soil type. I'd say the base should be at least 4 times the height in all directions. Remove the sod first. Add soil in 3-4" layers and tamp each layer well to reduce settling.

When building a first waterfall I think it's best to make it more of a temporary structure so it's easy to rearrange later. I suggest not using concrete and just concrete blocks to form the outline of the structure, after removing sod. Fill the blocks and inside with soil tamping every 3-4".

Dry stack each layer of blocks. You want the blocks touching so soil can't leak out. You can use smaller bricks to plug small gaps. It's a little tricky because you'll want the blocks to look like the final shape but you have to remember that a liner and a bunch of material covering the blocks. So you really want the blocks to just be a core structure, like 1/2 the width of the final shape. Don't be too concerned with forming pools at this point unless you're sure of pool placement. Pools can be formed later.

Liner goes over this structure.

Over the liner I use mortar to form the final structure. I use it like sculpting clay. I use my hands to add bloops and slowly build up the shape I want. To save mortar you can wad up newspaper and then a little mortar over the newspaper, like paper mache. The next day the thin mortar over the newspaper will be hard, but not strong. Then you can smear another 1/2" to 1" of mortar over the thinner layer. When that sets up you have a structure strong enough to last, but still easy enough to break up later if needed. The newspaper will rot away over time. You can leave an opening at the top of these newspaper balls and later fill with soil/pea gravel and add plants. Plants are an absolutely super way to improve the look of any natural style waterfall imo.

You can mortar rocks into the structure and even wood branches and dried grass. That's where creativity really comes in.

For the final mortar layers you can add concrete coloring to the mix. Add a little and then smear some of that in different spots around the structure. Then add some more color, or a different color to the previous mix and smear some of that around different spots. Keep doing that. That gives you more color variations like camouflage.

And/or you can paint the mortar. This gives you the most control. You can flick paint brush bristles with your thumb to produce lots of spots to look like granite. Lichen is really easy to make and looks great. Google "making fake lichen" for lots of methods.

First time builders often like to build the waterfall against a fence or wall. Resist this temptation. You have more options building out away from fences and walls, even if only a little. Looks better imo.

Your best friend for building a great waterfall is using plants. Pockets in the structure I covered, but also big tall plants to the sides and behind the structure. Over time these tall plants can be trimmed to fit the waterfall. The top of the falls can disappear into the foliage. You can even use bonsai. There's the small bonsai you've seen, but there's also larger sizes which fit better with this size falls. And these larger size bonsai, 6-8' tall are also easier to do than the small styles because they have a larger pot so watering isn't as difficult.

One last thing...waterfalls are notorious for leaks. Water can travel uphill, around corners, you name it. For your structure you could cover the entire core structure, front and back, with liner and forum a trench at the bottom to direct any misguided water back into the pond. But even then I like to keep the entire cur edge of the liner visible, or rather easy to expose. I turn the cut edge up, vertical and sandwiched between mortar so I can follow the entire cut edge all around the perimeter except where it falls into the pond. This edge will barely be visible and I cover with thin mortar or rocks where needed. If there's ever a leak, and leaks can appear weeks, months, years later, I can follow that line, breaking out the few rocks/mortar as needed to expose the liner to see if the problem is escaping water. Saves a lot of time but more important it forces you when building to know where the liner actually ends. That's much more important than it will initially appear. People assume they know where the liner ends but don't given the amount of leaks in waterfalls.

Where the falls liner over laps the pond liner you want a small gap between the liners to stop wicking (capillary action).

Have fun.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:16AM
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mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))

Oh Wow, thats fantastic advice, i wouldn't have thought of concrete as it's mostly lime. and i thought that was bad for fis, but as you pointed out it is lined and won't touch the water,

Bonsai hmm.. now that's a great idea for it, so avoid the fence.

would you recommend i build a scale model to find the right layout before starting as it's a one attempt.

now the foundations, you're suggesting to build one deep under should i look up how to build a foundation. (not a question i will be looking it up HA!)

never thought of leakage, the communal trench is a great idea,

oh instead of a hill of soil what about steps as that way i can also build an alpine bed on top as it will drain quickest?

mind is swimming in ideas. haha

but thank you. do you have any images of one or a step by step[ build someone has done?

I thionk I will be going in search of wild waterfalls/cascades in woodlands and parks and so on.

but it's greatly appreciated.

THank you


    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:58AM
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