Building a Water Feature – Prep and Planning

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So you want to build a waterfall in your garden, but you don’t know where to start? Careful consulting and proper planning can increase not only the finished feature, but it will make the installation process go much smoother. The first thing to consider will be the location of the waterfalls. The best place usually will be the corners of the yards, and face the cascades towards the most viewed direction. It is very important to plant heavy behind the water feature to give the illusion that there is a hill behind the waterfalls, and there is an implied source for the stream.

Another consideration is the type of rock to use. You will want to look at the existing house and materials used in the garden. If you have earth tones, stick with Tan “Moss rock”, or a more interesting rock such as “Travertine”. Or if you have a lot of concrete or greys, then stick with a Grey “Water washed rock”, or a blue toned “Kryptonite” and “Great Falls Boulders”.

A few more items need to be addressed before you can get started with the construction. Are you looking for a pond to house Gold fish or Koi. If so you will need to dig out a pond 2′-3′ deep for goldfish, or a 3′-6′ deep pond for koi. The edges of the pond should be cut for planting shelves with a 1′-2′ run. A skimmer is recommended for all ponds, it will help to skim leaf and debris from the pond, and will house the auto fill refill valve. An “Ecosystem” will need to be implemented, utilizing microorganisms to eat the algae and bacteria in the water. Ponds will require more maintenance than most water features. The skimmer net will need to be emptied when it fills. The mesh filters will need to be washed down with a hose every 2-4 months. Water plants may need to be divided once a year, along with a yearly cleaning via a pressure washer and filter cleanings. Total cost for maintaining a pond is approximately $500 per year. This cost is still less than the maintenance cost of the same square footage of lawn. The water feature itself will also consume less water than the same area of lawn.

Another option to consider if you want the sights and sounds of a waterfall, but you don’t want any maintenance or liability, is a “Pondless Waterfall”. This system is just like it sounds where, instead of a pond, there is a reservoir filled with rock and pebbles to where you can walk upon it. The waterfalls will cascade into those pebbles and give the illusion of disappearing into the ground. This system can be turned off with no standing water for mosquitoes, and doesn’t have deep water for children liabilities. The maintenance of these systems require only a once a year pressure washing of the rocks.

Once you figure out which direction to aim the feature, which type of system you want, and the type of rock, you’re ready to rock and roll. Check back in, we will be discussing, in depth, all the steps you need to take to create a professional water feature that will last!

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