How to Create a Pondless Waterfall for Your Home or Backyard
A pondless waterfall has many virtues. First, the appeal of a waterfall included into your outdoor landscaping is enormous. The sound of water flowing has always been considered one of the most soothing sounds, hence why they include it in just about every background noise making machine sold today. There is also the attraction that a pondless waterfall is near maintenance free. No fish to worry about feeding, any algae or moss build up in the summer months, and no major excavations needed in the garden. More and more, waterfalls are making their way indoors as well. The ease of bring waterfalls indoors has increased with the idea of a pondless waterfall. Let's take a look at the many ways we could incorporate our pondless waterfall, and how we'd build one.
First let's take a look at the many ways we could incorporate our water effect. The most obvious is to add our water to the garden area of our yard, but what if we live in an urban area, and we don't really have much of a yard or no garden to add it to? That's okay; we can still enjoy our pondless waterfall on the balcony of our apartment or any other small space that we like to escape to relax to. We can also bring the waterfall indoors. We can build one in our bedroom to help us relax and fall asleep to the natural sounds of waterfall. We can add the waterfall in any other room of the home as a decorative piece or conversation piece, such as a waterfall down an interior wall that separates the kitchen and dining room, or how about down the wall of a hallway? In smaller applications, we could have a waterfall flowing over a small bowl of rocks to create the sound of flowing water, and the visual illusion of wet stones from a creek bed.
So how do we build a pondless waterfall? Well, there are many ways. The easiest would be to purchase one of the readymade kits available commercially from any number of online sources, home and garden store, etc. These kits come with everything you need, the tubing, pump, liners, container to hold the water, and even a decorative piece for the water to flow over. All you need to do is assemble it, and add water! For the crafty veteran, or someone who would like to add water effects in a unique location of their home or garden, we'll have to take a look at the tools and processes to build our pondless waterfall from scratch.
First, we must determine where our water effect is going to go on our property, and in what scale (how big of a waterfall are we going to have?). Next, we'll need to measure the overall area in which water will actually be, because we're going to have to line that area with some form of waterproof liner (sold in sheets on a roll, similar to garbage bags on a roll) and we need to know how much square footage of liner to purchase. Next, we need to decide how we want to decorate our water effect. Will it be cascading straight down a wall, flowing over a large rock, a small bed of rocks, or whatever water resistant idea we have come up with.
Next we have to determine how big of a pump we need to make the water flow. This will be one of our biggest decisions, as an indoor waterfall will also have the noise of the pump to mask. As an obvious rule of thumb, the bigger the pump, the louder the noise. Now don't get me wrong, the pumps aren't so loud that you're having to holler to speak, but they can be loud depending on make and model, and how much water their pushing. Waterfall pumps are measure in GPH, Gallons Per Hour. A general rule of thumb is that a water faucet in your home on full open runs at about 200 gph. In a water scene, a waterfall six inches wide by three feet high would require a 500 gph pump to be able to push the water three feet into the air and push enough water to flow six inches wide and maintain a solid "sheet flow" effect. This means the water looks like a solid sheet of water flowing down your waterfall. If you'd like a more trickle effect, you could either buy a weaker pump (not the best choice, but saves some money up front on the pump cost) or adjust a 500 gph pump to the flow you'd like to achieve (best choice, more expensive up front). A knowledgeable lawn and garden store would be able to help you choose your pump. You also would choose based on whether it would be indoors or outdoors, as they vary to temperature tolerance as well.
Now we've determined the pump we need to make our water flow, and we're going to purchase our liner and decorative items for the water to flow over, so let's talk about tubing. The water has to get from the bottom back up to the top. Small, flexible tubing is how we achieve this need. You'll connect tubing to the pump, which will sit submerged in the water basin and route it to the top of the water effect, hiding it under the rocks, or inside a hollowed out piece of the big rock the water is going to flow over, you get the point. Remember, the water tubing will most likely be getting wet too, so when you tack it down, ensure you don't puncture the tubing so that water leaks out, and also cause a loss in water pressure, making your pump work harder.
Lastly, connecting your pump to a power source can be tricky. Whether you're creating a very small desktop waterfall, or an entire wall covering, you want to power your pump with a GFI type of outlet. These outlets are circuit protected outlets so that if some type of electrical malfunction occurs, the outlet shuts itself off. This prevents shock, fire or even the electrocution of someone from a frayed wire, etc.
Enjoy your new waterfall, and don't forget the pets in the home. They will be curious about your new addition to the house. Make sure they don't chew on power cables, decide to take a bath or create other mischief with your new water effect.