How to Install a Backyard Waterfall

The look and sound of flowing water is appealing in any landscape. You can build your own backyard waterfall in a weekend. Choose from a cascading style that tumbles water over a bed of rocks or a simple ledge style that drops water into a pool below.



Prepare the area

Check for underground utilities before digging. Install smaller waterfalls in level areas. Choose a hillside for larger cascading waterfalls.


Draw the design on the ground

Use marking spray paint to outline the areas to dig. Marking paint comes in spray cans that can be held upside down to spray directly onto the ground.


Dig out the pool

The base of a backyard waterfall is either a pool or pond. Dig it out to the desired finished shape.


Grade the hillside

If a waterfall is to cascade down over a hill, grade the surface to hold the foundation rocks as well as the rocks that make the channel of the falls. Dig out the hillside to accommodate the larger rocks to keep them level.


Lay a rubber liner in the pool

Use the thickest liner you can afford. A thicker liner helps to prevent leaks. Press it into the shape of the pool. Then, overlap it up onto the area you are placing the waterfall.


Place the rocks for the pool and waterfall

Use rocks of various sizes and shapes to lay in the basic design edge of the pool or pond. Build the height and length of the basic waterfall shape with rocks. Put the larger rocks on the bottom. Leave a channel for the falls and any stream that leads to the pool.


Lay the rubber liner for the falls and stream

Lay another piece of thick liner over the channel at the top of the falls down to the pool. Be sure to overlap the rubber liner going into the pool.


Cover the liner for the falls

Cover the rubber liner of the falls and the stream with flat rocks. You do not have to cover every square inch of the liner. However, waterfalls work best if the water can spill over something. Water that is slowed down and allowed to spill over the edges of other rocks creates more sound and interest.


Install the pump and plumbing

Some backyard waterfall designs require many steps to hide the plumbing. You can use a dark-colored hose or pipe and route it up through the stream to the top of the falls. This makes it easy to access for repairs. Be sure to use a ground fault interrupter circuit (GFCI) to connect the pump to electricity.


Cover exposed areas with pond gravel

You can cover any plumbing or bare liner with pond gravel to completely hide it. Use a flat rock to cover the pump in the pool.


Add plants

No outdoor water feature is complete without plants. Keep water plants in containers to prevent them from taking over a section of the waterfall or pool.

Backyard waterfalls can have simple or complex designs. You can hand dig and build a small one in a weekend with a helper. Recruit more help for large rocks, or have them placed using machinery.

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