Home Waterfalls – Water Features To Consider

Summary: Water features in a landscape plan even a small landscape can create so much atmosphere. There’s more to do than simply having water trickling off some rocks. Read on as we look at pedestal, catch basins, shelves and other water features to whet your landscape idea appetite.

Question: I want to add a water feature at home, waterfalls are definitely on the drawing board. Can you give me any ideas as to different styles or features to use when I’m working with my landscape designer.

Answer: Just like opinions you can build waterfalls and water features for the home or commercially in as many different ways as you can think of them. Every waterfall man-made or natural is a work of art. Having some basic ideas on the waterfall features will help you create just about any effect possible.

If you know what you want to accomplish you’ve got have the battle won, there isn’t anything “secret” in building – pedestal areas, catch basins, streams, falls, shelves or the pond.

pondless water feature

Pedestal Water Features

Pedestal areas can be flat sections usually lined and approximately 8 to 12 inches deep. The area can hold stones or feature rocks in a variety of settings.

Building any kind of water feature is more than throwing down some rocks and setting a hose on the top… then hoping the water will end up in the pool area to be recirculated. Pedestal areas expand the water area under the rocks so any water not following the path you dreamed of will collect and can be directed to the pond naturally or by pumps.

Catch Basins Water Feature

Just like the name implies a catch basin catches falling water to cut down on splashing. The deeper the catch basin the less splash. When water hits rocks directly you never know where it will go, therefore it can’t be controlled.

Maintenance costs can grow if splashing water continuously flows and drops onto landscape rocks and stones alone. Water will evaporate much faster and more water will need to be to the pond. Click Here Read – Thinking of a Water Garden

Catch basins can improve the sound if that’s what you’re looking to achieve. Water falling into deeper water has more bass, travels through walls and surrounding foliage to fill more landscape areas of your garden or house. Water falling onto rocks or in shallow pond areas give off more treble sound. Treble is filtered easier by elements in its path.

A general rule when determining the size of a catch basin:

  • The quantity or amount of water falling
  • The distance the water will fall

Make the catch basin deeper when more water is falling, the great the height of the water fall the surface area in the catch basin should be larger. As a minimum make the catch basin twice as wide from the farthest edge of the waterfall than the height of the water falling.

Example: If a waterfall is one foot wide and falls from a height of two feet, make the catch basin approximately 5 feet in diameter. A water depth in the basin of 12 to 24 inches should be acceptable for most applications.

Streams and Falls Water Feature

waterfall shelve and drop
If you watch any news, from time to time you’ll see video clips of streams and rivers that have run away and just can’t be controlled. The “mini” streams and waterfalls in your design can quickly grow into one of the most aggravating dimensions of any water feature project.

Water can run off the liner like an out of control swelling stream, water running into “unprotected” areas and falling in places you didn’t intend.

As the amount of water and sloop of the stream increase so does the difficulty of controlling the water flow.

The basics – streams are paths and channels connecting catch basins to falls or catch basins to the pond. Falls are simply places in the stream where you plan for the water to fall into a catch basin.

Shelves and Ponds Water Feature


Water shelves separate the deepest pond areas from the shallow areas. They create stopping points where rocks will be placed and prevent the other rocks from sliding to the bottom of the pond. Shelves can be larger in areas holding larger stones, giving a more natural and visual interest. Shelves mimic nature very much, think of the Continental shelf running along the coast.

Don’t think of a pond as a hole in the ground, it holds it’s own environment and ecosystem. A place for fish to enjoy life, and water lilies to show their beauty, a soothing refuge by a quiet reflecting pool on the weekend, with water the fuel of the system…

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