Pondless waterfalls can create a big impact on any property. Over the years, we have had a lot of success designing and installing many pondless waterfalls. They fit into almost any space and provide a peaceful setting for the client’s private enjoyment.
However, for this build, the enjoyment factor was anything but private.
Since the 1970s, the tiny house movement has grown in popularity among those seeking a return to simpler living. By definition, a tiny house is a dwelling unit with no more than 400 square feet of floor area. Aside from affordability, the perks of living in a tiny house include environmental friendliness, a rustic lifestyle and a focus on community rather than the individual. As these small habitats are generally found in clusters, any outdoor project for a tiny home can be enjoyed by the greater community.
The Mackey family contacted us after settling down in a tiny house community in Willis, Texas. They had fallen in love with the concept of a pondless waterfall after watching countless hours of footage on YouTube, and they were envisioning something for all their new neighbors in the community to enjoy as well. They had a good idea of what they liked but had no idea how impactful it could really be.
A Unique Approach
We as designers are always thinking about aesthetics, but when we are building in a public area, we also need to think about durability and safety. During the planning process, it is important to talk with the clients about these things. Taking these elements into consideration as a designer will help the client understand why we do some of the things we do during the installation process.
For example, if someone likes to climb all over the boulders, they need to be sturdy. If we are building a pooling area, I like to use Black Star gravel to create more of a beachlike entry to the vault. (Plus, the gravel will not slide under your feet!) Edging streams is a big part of making any water feature look natural. Outcroppings are also so important yet sometimes overlooked; we install them to balance out a new feature.
Gaps in the rocks are important so we can incorporate plants. Aquatic plants are a great way to soften edges from inside a stream and basin area. We also landscape around pondless features to fill in the natural design of the water feature. Blending helps to enhance the outcroppings while making the water feature fit into the existing landscape, just as if they had evolved together. We love including LED lighting packages in all our pondless waterfalls to create a space for outdoor entertainment and enjoyment beyond daylight hours and well into the evening.
Designing for Safety
As a Master Certified Aquascape Contractor, we use Aquascape products in our builds, like flow-control pumps and energy-efficient dosing systems that release bacteria into the water feature or pond automatically. Color-changing lights are also a great addition to any pond or water feature.
I not only wanted the Mackeys’ pondless waterfall to stand out, but I also had to make sure it was safe for neighboring residents to visit and enjoy. We had about a 3-foot elevation change to work with, so we were able to create multiple drops and different types of waterfalls in different areas. We used Aquascape’s SLD adjustable flow pump (5,000 – 9,000 gallons per hour), a solids-handling pump with Wi-Fi smart controls that can be controlled from a smart phone or tablet. We also integrated a dosing system that releases bacteria in small doses throughout the day. To finish it off, we added color-changing LED lights that can be controlled from a smartphone.
The stone that we selected was Texas granite moss rock for its capability to provide interesting-looking boulders with moss, eroded edges and a neutral color that suits almost any project. Each boulder is machine set; this way, each stone is installed exactly how we want to see it in nature, creating a landscape that is natural looking to attract birds and nature to the space — yet still colorful to catch the human eye.
The biggest challenge on this project was maximizing the visibility of the waterfalls from so many directions with only 3 feet of elevation to work with. The waterfall cascades had to be just right, and I think we nailed it! The cascading falls are visible from all directions, capturing the eye of anyone walking by from even 100 feet away.
A Community Gem
This project was started and completed in three days, including the landscape work. We really wanted to design and build out not just the feature, but also the landscape. The landscape is the finishing touch and a very important part of the project, softening the boulders and giving it the most natural look possible.
During the final walkthrough, we provided the client with a packet with all the products, warranties, a catalog and other information for the feature we’d just installed. This is always of high value to the client, knowing that they have part numbers for items that they may need to replace in the future. We sat down with the client to go over warranties, maintenance and care of their feature, explaining in detail the mechanics and what to do and when. This way, they’re not just new pond owners — they’re confident pond owners.
Now the Mackeys have a beautiful pondless waterfall, not only for the family to enjoy, but also to share with their entire tiny house community!