Creative Ways to Hide Pond Equipment

Published on April 28, 2024

Hiding ugly pond equipment can be an issue for any pond.

Sure, we all know what these are used for, but they sure are ugly! I’ve always challenged myself to see how well I can hide these big ugly boxes. Although it takes time, it’s rewarding when it finally it comes to you.

Waterfall Boxes

Thinking outside the box (literally) is what works for me. Keep in mind that other than the places you need to drill out for plumbing, you can certainly cut areas to make it easier for yourself. You will never see this in an instruction manual, but it really makes things easier.

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For me, cutting off the attached molded lip works the best. Once you cut off the lip, you have a much flatter area when you attach the liner to get creative. (Note that this will void any manufacturer’s warranty, so use caution.) Some manufacturers offer a detachable spillway, but you still need to reseal it to the liner. In either case, I still cut off the lip portion.

When positioning a waterfall box for the best look and performance for water flow, try angling the box slightly, if you can, so you don’t look straight at it. Depending on the design, this is not always possible. If you can, place boulders to hide the actual box or spillway and then direct the water flow around the boulders. This will hide the actual opening from view.

The spillway lip cutoff (left) is close to waterfall box. . Water flow (middle) is directed with edge boulders. The completed waterfall (right) hides all trace of equipment.

This is one of the reasons I cut the lip, as you are free to place the boulders against the box where you want. You can even squeeze the water slightly coming out of the box by placing boulders closer together. This will give you a faster flow of water for a different look.

I also love using driftwood and interesting rocks against and near the box. In many cases, using larger rocks on either side of the box can help hide the sides of the box itself. Always remember to allow extra liner above the box before sealing the liner to the box. This will allow larger boulders and more creativity against the box and eliminate possible leaks with low liner.

Foaming the rocks as needed to direct the flow is a must. Make sure to peel off the excess. Sometimes I sprinkle dry dirt on wet foam or put moss over it to hide what I don’t want to see. It’s always a good idea to step back a few times to see what the client will see. It’s important to realize that the dirt around the waterfall box needs to get back down to the existing ground level. Doing this in a creative manner is key to a natural look. Allow plenty of room behind and on the sides of the waterfall box when starting. Building tiers from the ground up with planting pockets to soften the elevation changes keeps a natural look, especially when the plants fill in.

For me, a good rule of thumb is 1 to 2. For every 1-foot height of waterfall, I go 2 feet out on the sides and back (or more if possible). If this is not feasible, using larger boulders allows you to get down to grade in less space. Plants, especially the cascading varieties, can hide parts of the exposed box at the soil level and keep a steeper slope, looking more natural overall.

Skimmers

Skimmers are much easier to hide, as they are already underwater and partially hidden. There are many ways to hide these boxes, both in the water and out of the water.

For outside the water, some manufacturers supply an artificial rock lid, while others supply a black lid. Sometimes installing a thin rock slab that can be moved easily for service looks the best.

For inside the water, I like installing creative rock work around the opening without blocking the water flow to prevent debris from entering the skimmer. These rocks should be foamed so they don’t shift or fall into the opening. If you have the room, you can position the entire skimmer so the opening of the skimmer is at an angle facing to the left or right of the waterfall box. By placing a boulder on the side of the skimmer opening on the waterfall side, the water will be forced around it and into the skimmer. This keeps the opening completely out of view. This requires more liner but looks great.

Spillways

Working with spillways are so much fun. They are typically smaller, and you can put things on top of these units. Some of these spillways can support thousands of pounds, so putting a large, unique rock on top of the spillway is possible.

This spillway is placed at an angle.

I love using driftwood with rocks to camouflage how the water comes out of the opening. If there is room, you can angle the opening away from the direct sight line so the actual opening can’t be seen coming out of the box. I like to use these units as a water source and then use boulders and rocks to create the waterfall. This makes it easier to hide the opening the water comes out of. Use larger rocks to direct water flow instead of aiming the spillway opening.

When sealing the liner to the back of the spillway, allow extra liner to come over the unit so you have plenty to play with and tuck behind a larger rock or piece of driftwood or stump. Just like hiding the waterfall box, allow plenty of room for elevation changes to get the soil back down to ground level in a natural way. This can be difficult, especially with limited space. Again, using plant materials with your rock work will keep this looking great.

Use each new project to try different, creative approaches and always think outside the box!

Aqua UV

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