Here is a quick guide to building a pondless or vanishing waterfall in your backyard or garden area. The Pondless waterfall is a great addition to any landscape design. Simple and low maintenance, yet guaranteed to be the focal point of your garden. We will be detailing a Filtrific Vanishing waterfall in this post. To read more about the difference between a Filtrific Vanishing Waterfall and the traditional Pondless Waterfall go Here.
As with any waterfall or landscape design, I always recommend doing a drawing or having a professional designer draw out a plan for your project area prior to construction of your water feature. This will allow you to plan for future planting or hardscaping and make sure you are satisfied with the location of the waterfall before construction begins.
The first step, after you have decided on the right location for your waterfall, (considering things like, the view from your house or seating area, and making sure the water flows from a naturalistic starting point.) would be to size your system. Your system size is the total amount of water that will be circulating through the waterfall and any point. Using the Filtrific sizing chart is a very useful tool, and will help you figure out how much space you will need to hold the total volume of water in your feature. This is a very important part of the project. You will need approx. 3 times the volume of water, flowing trough the waterfall or stream, in your holding tank or pondless basin. Do not under estimate this step! I have seen many projects gone wrong by not having enough volume of water to run the system.
The Filtrific system has two basic components. The first is the filter box and pump housing. This box will hold your leaf catch baskets, pump, overflow port and automatic fill valve (if you choose to use an auto-fill). The second component is the expansion tank. This is only needed if your system has a greater volume then the filter box can hold. (See sizing chart).
Once your design, location and system size are set, you are ready for excavation. Dig out an area to set your filter box, as well as, a rough excavation for the waterfalls and stream. Give yourself enough room in the waterfall excavation to account for placing boulders and stone. Always make sure your excavation is ‘cupped’ into your slope to give the feature a natural look.
Here you can see the installation of the Filtrific filter box as well as the expansion tank.
Make sure to set you box to the level of your finished grade for it to flow correctly.
Here is the box installed with the plumbing roughed in. You can see the overflow, pump discharge and auto-fill lines ready to be backfilled.
The best part of the Filtrific system is the fact that you can install the filter box in a remote location away from the bottom of the waterfall. This allows for easy access to the pump and can aide in the overall ascetic view of the feature.
Now that your box is placed and your excavation is roughed in, you can begin the construction of the waterfall. The first step is laying your liner out. Measure your length and width of the excavation area to be sure you have enough liner.
We used a 45 mil EPDM rubber liner with a 9 ounce Geo-textile fabric underlayment for this system. Be sure there are no rocks or roots under the fabric that may puncture the liner.
Now you can start placing stone.
Starting at the bottom of the falls, set your stone and boulders on top of the liner, using extra caution not to damage the liner.
At each step, or fall, make sure you stop and backfill behind the liner to achieve maximum flow of water over the stone. You can use mortar or waterfall foam behind the stone to aid in this process.
Stone placement is a very artistic endeavor, it can be tedious, but is rather rewarding in the end.
Work you way up the falls until you reach your desired height. At the top of the falls you can choose to install a waterfall starter box or just run you pipe from the pump into the stream or falls.
After you are satisfied with the waterfall you can move back down to the bottom of the falls and install the fixed skimmer. The fixed skimmer allows for a small pool of water to gather at the bottom of the feature while it is running. When the waterfall is turned off, the pool of water drains into the filter box, leaving no standing water in the feature. A real maintenance plus!
Now you are ready to install your pump and get your new waterfall flowing! Trim the edges of exposed liner, leaving approx. 8 inches around the edge to compensate for settling.
Using the Filtrific system when installing a vanishing or pondless waterfall will make the maintenance on your system much easier then the traditional pondless waterfall system. Do some research on the different types of waterfall systems, or give us a call for a free consultation.
We spent the last 6 months working on this large pondless waterfall in Asheville, N.C.
This water feature is 175 ft long and has 55 ft of total drop from top to bottom. We have painstakingly hauled approximately 150 tons of materials down a narrow steep trail all by hand. There was no machine access for this project.
We created a 3600 gallon underground pondless basin to hold the water needed to circulate the system. We installed a 5 hp EasyPro external pump to create the awesome flow of water. To keep the leaf debris out of the pump, we set a Filtrific waterfall filter box into this system.
We still have some finish work to do around the feature, but I was excited to share this update because I am so pleased with how it is turning out. We need to cap off the basin, install some more edging rock and landscape the project area.
Our goal in creating this water feature was to make it as naturalistic as possible. We wanted it to blend in with the existing landscaping and seem like it was always there.
We recently finished some of the edging work on the large pondless waterfall that we built last year. This included 2 wood bridges, a stone slab bridge and 2 stepping stones that help our client and his visitors enjoy the waterfall and surrounding landscape.
The waterfall in this video is off for the season, but I was excited to show some of the finished project.
We often use bridges in our pondless waterfall projects both functionally and as features. The bridge is a symbol of healing and connection. In some of our features we use stone slabs, in some wood or concrete.
Whatever material you use, using a bridge to cross you water feature will help people feel more connected to the landscape.
We have also done larger concrete structures over natural streams.
This type of bridge is much more functional, but can still be aesthetically pleasing.
Be sure to use structural material when building a bridge. Making it stout and strong so you can be confident that when you leave the project, the homeowner will not be left with a dangerous problem.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or to share some of your bridge projects.