A backyard waterfall brings a piece of a mountain stream right to your house. There is really no substitute for the relaxing sight and sound of water as it cascades and gurgles over rocks, gently making its way down stream to a quiet pool. The ripples and bubbles bounce the light in interesting directions, catching your eye and causing you to drift away into a quiet place where your worries can't follow. Add some
low voltage lighting and the effect can be even more dramatic at night. Sounds pretty nice, huh? Well that place may be easier to get to than you think.
A backyard waterfall can take on many forms, from large and elaborate to small and simple. There are even small prefabricated and self contained models, but those are not what we are discussing here. Discover the various options and learn what will be involved with the style you choose.
Any backyard waterfall has essentially two components. There will be an elevated structure at the highest point where the water originates and a pool at the lowest point where the water accumulates before being pumped back to the starting point. The journey between those two components is the interesting part, and can take a wide range of options. There may be one simple step from the top to the bottom, or you may have multiple drops, all different. You may have a stream flowing between drops. The options you chooses will be up to your desires, your budget, and the amount of space you have available.
If you have a natural slope in your backyard you may want to capitalize on that. After all, water is always going to flow down hill. But if you don't have any slope, or if the slope isn't where you want to have your waterfall - no problem. You can create your own high point. It will just take a little more work - and usually a little more money.
You can build a dirt berm or maybe you would prefer a stone structure as your starting point. If space is limited, consider a corner of your backyard or a wall that needs some added interest. Keep in mind that you will need to be able to get electricity to the pump and possibly to other components. The space and slope you have available will normally determine at least part of your design for you.
If you have a small area with a 18 inch drop, you probably won't have a multi level backyard waterfall with a stream running between the levels. But you can still have a beautiful and interesting water feature - one that will enhance your backyard and give you years of enjoyment.
"Pond would be good for you." Remember that Caddyshack moment? If not; never mind.
One of the first choices you will need to make will be regarding the pool or pond at the bottom of your backyard waterfall. If you want your water to flow into a water garden or a koi pond, you will need to incorporate a filtration system suitable for that application. If you just want the visual appeal of a shallow pool without fish or plants, you can use chlorine to treat the water and keep it clean, so a filtration system can be much simpler. The absence of plant and animal life has another benefit. You can turn off the waterfall when it isn't needed. You can even have it set up on a timer so it comes on at a pre-set time and turns off at a later time. There's no reason to run the pump if nobody is there to enjoy the waterfall. You will also use less electricity and prolong the life of your pump, since it won't be running all the time. This could be a significant consideration since a large pump running non-stop could use $30 or more of electricity per month. A similar system running only a few hours a day could cost only $5 per month to operate.
Fish need the aeration provided by a waterfall in order to survive, so you can't just turn it off if you have fish in your pond. Maybe you love the idea of a backyard waterfall, but you don't have room for a backyard pond. Or maybe you just don't want one. No problem - a pondless waterfall (discussed on another page) can be the perfect solution for you.
Use caution if you have a pond that will not be circulating water during mosquito season. Try to run the pump for a few hours every few days at least to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed. It usually takes about a week for the larvae to hatch and moving water will kill them, so a couple of days of non-use is not normally a problem.
A backyard waterfall might be a project you can do yourself. As with all projects, it depends on your skill level, abilities, knowledge, and time. The overall concept is not really complicated and there are kits that will supply the components you will need for a particular design. There are also qualified professionals who will be happy to design and build a backyard water feature for you - for a reasonable fee. Do your research and be honest with yourself before you decide which way to go. Either way, this is a backyard design idea that is sure to be a beautiful and stress relieving addition to your backyard. Get started and enjoy!
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