Contractor’s Corner | Waterfalls for Mom

By Weston Zimmerman

Published on July 31, 2020

Hunting boulders in the woods behind my parents’ house with my boy Chase.

If I go back far enough, I have to credit my mom for cultivating my passion for building waterfalls. I remember being 5 or 6 years old and messing with the rocks, liner and pumps in our backyard. We had a blast. I still remember plugging in that first pond for the first time and the satisfaction it gave me. 

We moved when I was 7, and we built another pond at our new home. When I was 16, I started working for Tussey Landscaping, and it didn’t take me long to realize that I really enjoyed building water features. It presented an awesome challenge that a builder can never completely attain — the emulation of nature.  

The very next summer, I built a new 8-by-11-foot pond with a 25-foot stream for my mom. This time, I got to incorporate the things I had learned while working at Tussey. We enjoyed this pond as a family for a long time. I have many pleasant memories of summer nights spent relaxing on the back patio and hanging out with friends alongside that pond.

Three years ago, my parents decided to move again. I had already flown the nest, married and gotten my own place. But my mom loved her water garden, and she immediately missed having a pond at home.

My favorite falls of the build. I love the mixture of crashing white water with the clean sheet falls.

So, one Friday after work, my two brothers and I teamed up to harvest boulders right out of the woods on their new property, and we got straight to work. By Saturday afternoon, we had a brand new waterfall — and, might I say, the best one yet. 

This is what’s so awesome about building water features — it’s an art that never stops evolving. Even though I had been a professional builder for more than 10 years when I built the latest waterfall, I found that I was still learning all the things that go into creating an aquatic work of art. You’ve got to stay hungry and humble, cultivating a desire to constantly absorb new information. Along the way, you experience “a-ha!” moments when you discover how to manipulate rocks in certain ways that help to achieve the outcome you’re going for. This is how you develop your own unique style.  

Saturday at 2 PM, we had the pond in and running. In the following weeks my mom planted and mulched the area around the pond.

I think of building waterfalls as a form of handwriting, in a way. Everyone has their own unmistakable language and signature in the way they place rock. I am confident that I can walk onto any Tussey job I’ve never seen before, point at a rock or waterfall, and know exactly who placed or built it. It’s innately obvious and tough to explain, but I assure you — it’s there! I consider it a blessing to be able to make a living creating these unique works of art. The most fulfilling thing is seeing the impact our water features have on our customers. 

And to that point, thanks, Mom! Who could’ve predicted that when you started letting me mess with rocks and water in our backyard (long before I even started school), it would one day turn in to my career? God bless you for everything you’ve contributed to my life. I’m eternally grateful!  

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Designer: Weston Zimmerman
Installer: Weston Zimmerman & brothers
Project Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania
Size: 11×16’ pond with 15’ stream

  • AquaSurge 5000 pump
  • Signature 400 skimmer

Time to complete: 30 manhours
Crew: 3 brothers
Buyer’s Cost: Diaper debt (now cleared)



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