Building a Backyard Waterfall

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If you’re considering a waterfall in your backyard, there is a punch list of things to consider. The biggest ticket item on the punch list will be whether you want to DIY the pondless waterfall or hire a professional water feature contractor, e.g. TranquilityScapes. The most obvious factor that will dictate on whether you would like to DIY vs hire a contractor will be cost. A DIY pondless waterfall on paper will be much cheaper than a professionally installed one. Here are some things to consider before choosing the DIY option, while it may look better on paper it may not be the correct choice for you. If you’re curious as to what a pondless waterfall may cost you on Long Island, visit our pricing page for waterfalls.

    • When hiring a contractor, you will be paying for the materials required to do the job, as well as labor. Here at TranquilityScapes we build with all Aquascape products, a premium rotationally molded product able to withstand the freeze thaw cycle of our winters on Long Island with the warranty to back it up. While it may be tempting to go on 3rd party websites and order a DIY waterfall kit that may be a third of the price of what the Aquascape DIY kit costs or you may start collecting milk crates to be used as your underground reservoir, you will be sacrificing on quality, i.e. you waterfall may last 2 years vs 20 years, as well possibility limiting your artistic ability. 
    • Labor. No matter on whether you are building a 100′ long waterfall or a 10′ long waterfall, you will be required to do demanding labor. There will be a lot of excavation, and a lot of heavy lifting of boulders. Depending on the size of the project you may want to rent machinery to do some of the excavating as well as some of the heavy lifting. A 2’x3′ boulder may sound small on paper but in reality a 2’x3′ irregular boulder will weigh anywhere from 1500 to 2000 lbs or more depending on the type of stone you will be dealing with. 
    •  Tricks of the trade. Building a pondless waterfall is not as simple as digging a hole and throwing rocks on top of liner. Chances are that your first pondless waterfall will not look like you would have hoped. Also, there are important calculations to make if your waterfall does not fall within a DIY kit description, another aspect is the artistic ability of the builder, and especially the construction techniques used. The last thing you would want to do is build an inoperable waterfall due to not having enough water in the system or the worst kind of waterfall; a leaky one. 
So you’ve done your homework and watched a few videos and you’re determined to build this yourself. So where do you start?
  1. Mark out & Excavation. The location of waterfalls should be viewable from all viewing areas and even viewable from the inside of the home. Because what’s the point of building a beautiful waterfall if you can’t even see it 90% of the time?  You’ll also ideally want an area with a natural slope or otherwise you’ll be bringing in a lot of fill dirt to create your “natural slope”. Once you find your ideal location, you can mark out the dimensions of your basin which will most likely be a rigid plastic basin like an Aquabasin or you will be using EPDM liner along with Aquablox (Please don’t use milk crates as a substitute…Trust me, we’ve seen it all) and will begin your excavation and installation of your basin.
  2. Rocking in the waterfall. This is the most labor intensive part of any build, as well as the most artistic part of the build. Unfortunately the rocks do not come numbered, so you will need to use your own creativity to create a natural looking waterfall. Chances are you will be placing rocks and taking them back out as you will find out some rocks will not fit like you would like it to. As always, the fewer rocks that construct the waterfall the more natural the waterfall will appear. 
  3. Waterfall Foam. It will get everywhere the first time you use it and it will not come off any fabric it touches so wear clothes you do not care about. Waterfall foam will be needed to seal the crevices between the rocks that form the waterfalls, waterfall foam should not be used as a waterproofing agent as it is not waterproof and will not prevent a improperly built waterfall from leaking. 
  4. Hiding the liner. Once the waterfall is built and runs correctly then it’s time to hide the liner. Leaving about 8-12″ of liner left is deal for future settlement. Adding a blend of driftwood, gravel, soil, moss to hide the liner is the best choice to hide the liner. Using only 1 of these choices will be lead to a man-made appearance compared to a blend of these options.
Your waterfall is finally complete! Sit back and enjoy your waterfall and be on the look out for leaks. If you need to constantly refill your pondless waterfall there is most likely a leak somewhere. You will have to backtrack all of your steps and figure out whether you have a low edge where water is going over the edge of the liner, or figure out if a boulder possibility pierced the liner during construction. If you find out your waterfall is not leaking, then congratulations you officially built your pondless waterfall and you definitely deserve the sights and sounds of your hard work!  

If you’re interested in having TranquilityScapes create your backyard pondless waterfall, please contact us today whether by filling out the contact form or giving us a call! We would be more than happy to help you in creating your backyard oasis.