Contractor's Corner

Installing a Disappearing Waterfall

Landscape design creates natural paradise.

We were contacted by a local landscape contractor to add a water feature to some landscape design ideas they were working on for a client looking to enhance his front yard. The original location of the water feature was planned to be across from the house in the front. However, after additional viewing of the various vantage points, a new location was decided upon that was right up close to the house. This would provide beautiful views of the water feature when pulling into the driveway, greeting guests as they walk to the front door, and great views from the inside dining room. The sound of water could also be heard from all the rooms that faced the front of the house. Initial discussions included a small koi pond, but a lower-maintenance option that still provided the sights and sounds of water was more appealing to the client. We came up with a landscape design that included both a pondless waterfall and a fountain combination.

The Work

The bowls are placed at different elevations and have slightly different flow rates coming out of them, controlled by a ¾-inch flex pvc and valves.

The bowls are placed at different elevations and have slightly different flow rates coming out of them, controlled by a ¾-inch flex pvc and valves. (Click Image to Expand)

This job took two days to complete with a three-person team. We had good access since this water feature was being built right next to the driveway in the front yard. The existing sidewalk provided the borders for our workspace, and we wanted to use as much of the space as possible. We spread the location of the two spillway bowls out from each other and put a small natural waterfall in the center.

Being so close to the house, we ran into just about every underground utility line as we were digging and had to shift the location of the waterfall vault a couple of times. The placement of the spillway bowls also took longer than we thought. It’s time consuming to get them placed just right — not to mention level and flowing correctly. The bowls are placed at different elevations and have slightly different flow rates coming out of them, controlled by a ¾-inch flex pvc and valves. We waited until the final placement and positioning of the bowls to drill the holes for the bulkhead fittings. The ¾-inch flex pvc leading to the bowls comes off the pump check valve, so the fountain bowls stay full with water if the pump is turned off. This is useful since the patio pond bowls are also being used for aquatic plants. This turned out to be a great way to integrate lily pads and other aquatic plants that would not typically work in a disappearing waterfall design.

The Layout

The water feature also acts to redirect rainwater by initially capturing it, using what it needs to fill the system

The water feature also acts to redirect rainwater by initially capturing it, using what it needs to fill the system. (Click Image to Expand)

There is a small, natural waterfall in the center using an Aquascape waterfall spillway. The waterfall has a rise of 1.5 feet from the water level in the bottom pool, so a low-head Aquasurge pond pump was used. The rise of the waterfall was limited because we were right up against the house and did not want to make a high berm that would look out of scale and would have dirt or rocks touching the house.

The water feature also acts to redirect rainwater by initially capturing it, using what it needs to fill the system, and then discharges any excess into an existing drainage pipe that we tied into. This drainage pipe goes underneath the sidewalk and then flows down grade toward the back of the house. This small rainwater harvesting setup was important to install to improve drainage in this section near the house, since any excess water would have no way of leaving the new water feature or surrounding landscape area.

The Finished Product

The clients were very pleased with the way this disappearing waterfall turned out — and a lot of the neighbors began admiring it right away! At night it gets a lot of attention from people passing by since it can be seen from the street. It’s all lit up at night with LED pond and landscape lights.

We were happy to introduce another family to the water garden lifestyle!

>> See video below of the installation and take a look for yourself!

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