Creating a water feature in your backyard landscape is the type of project that provides multiple benefits. It becomes a focal point in your yard, adds value to your home and makes your outdoor space a more enjoyable place to spend time.
Photo credit to Hamed Saber
Designing and building a natural looking waterfall is both challenging and rewarding for do-it-yourself landscapers. Here are a few tricks and tips to help you along the way.
Spend some time studying nature to figure out how to make your waterfall look natural. If there is not a stream with waterfalls close to you, look through photography books or pictures online. As you begin to sketch out ideas for your waterfall, you might even copy one that you particularly like. Observe things like the relative size of rocks, how they are arranged, the pools of water at the top and bottom and how the water flows.
Work With the Land
Ideally, if you are planning to build a waterfall feature with stone, it works best if you have a sloping area in your backyard. Your waterfall and any associated pools or streams should be built into the ground, not on top of the ground. Dirt that you remove can be used as part of the overall project, to change the grade of the land and build height behind the actual waterfall.
You will also need to decide if your waterfall will have one or more straight vertical drops or if it will be a steeply sloping, splashing waterfall. This is partly a matter of personal preference, but the steepness of the slope in your yard may help you make that decision.
Choose the Right Rocks
Rocks are, of course, a natural product, but there are some things to consider when selecting rocks for your waterfall project. In a natural stream, there tends to be one dominant type of rock with a few other rocks mixed in. You might, for example, want to use mostly gray granite rocks, while also including a few pieces of off-white quartz.
At Grand River Stone we have an excellent variety of River Rock in different sizes and types of stone to create an interesting river bed or pond bottom. We have round stone, potato stone, rainbow river, northern granite, Muskoka granite and black, polished pebbles. We also have flat stones in varying colours and sizes to build up your waterfall and have water fall from: ledgerock, flat mossy, slate and flag stone.
A variety of rock shapes and sizes is also appropriate. Larger rocks should form the actual waterfall; smaller rocks can line the pools or streams. Many natural streams have smooth, rounded rocks along the bottom of the waterway.
Let the artist in you have fun with this project. Choose from a wide variety of feature stones and beach pebbles to create the perfect waterfall.
Let the Water Flow
There are plumbing and mechanical components to your waterfall, including a pump, tubing and an electrical source. All of these should remain hidden from view. The water flow should look like it is occurring naturally, without your assistance. The force of water should also appear proportional to the size of your water feature. A small waterfall should not be rapidly gushing, nor should a large waterfall have water that is barely moving.
Create a Setting
Your natural waterfall will ultimately look like it blends into the surrounding landscape. Water-tolerant plants can be included in and adjacent to your water feature. Don’t have the rocks just stop at the edge of the waterfall or stream. Taper them out into the adjacent area. Natural arrangements of rocks and plants do not follow straight lines. Use loose clusters that appear random, yet flowing.
A thoughtfully designed and constructed rock water feature and waterfall will look like it belongs in your yard or has been there for many years. If you do not feel that you have the design skills that are needed, consult with a professional landscape designer.
Ready to Get Started?
We at Grand River Stone are happy to help you find the rocks that will work for your space. If DIY sounds a little daunting, we also have a list of great contractors from which to choose for design and/or installation. Just ask our helpful staff for a referral.