Unexpected Transformations | Pondless Waterfall Gets a Second Chance

By Fred Johnson

Published on May 31, 2016

The first version of the waterless pond.
In 2004, the original version of this cozy installation.

In 2004, my first year building water features, I received a call from an elderly lady and promptly made an appointment for a consultation. When I arrived at her place, I was greeted by a very friendly, gentle, but direct lady. She had a little trouble getting around but had a lot of spunk. She told me that she wanted a pond with a waterfall, fish and plants. We immediately got down to business, selecting the pond location and maintenance options. Soon we had a plan, and three days later, she was the very happy owner of a nice new pond.

We stayed in touch about once a year for maintenance advice, cleaning and other standard follow-up issues. She took very good care of her pond and followed my maintenance instructions. She truly loved her pond! But as the years went by, I got busier and soon had too many ponds to visit when I was in her area.

I was nearby one day in 2009 and realized that I had not heard from her in a while, so I stopped by. There was a young couple standing out front, so I asked them if she still lived there. It was a very sad day they said that she had died, and they had rented the house from the family. I introduced myself as the one who had built the pond in the backyard, and somehow things got worse. They replied, “What pond?”

I asked if I could walk around and see for myself, and they were happy to comply. The area looked like it did when I had first arrived years ago. To their enjoyment, I opened my laptop and showed pictures them of the pond that used to be.

In 2016, the updates for this pondless waterfall.
In 2016, the updates for this pondless waterfall.

Then, in April of this year, we received an email from a young lady that said she had a water feature that was driving her insane, with various leaking and frequent clogging issues. We scheduled a consultation visit, and when we arrived at the address, I knew right away where I was. When we went to the backyard, there was a haphazard pondless waterfall with some very familiar boulders, slate and stone. I was very happy to see them again. It turned out that the homeowners’ association (HOA) had complained the pond would draw unwanted critters into the neighborhood and had made them fill it in.

Years later, the daughter decided she wanted to live in her mother’s house, and after she moved in, her first step was to become president of the HOA. Next, she resurrected her mother’s water feature. A well-intentioned friend of hers with admittedly no water feature experience had tried to put together a pondless waterfall with her mother’s stone. He had hooked up a small magnetic drive pump to my 2-inch plumbing in a hole with a 50-pound piece of slate over it. To say the least, it did not turn out well, and he told her to seek someone with experience. I guess karma and a good business reputation with water features led her back to us.

The young lady was you guessed it very friendly, gentle, spunky and direct about what she wanted. She wanted to be able to sit on her mother’s bench, reminisce and enjoy the sights and sounds herself. She wanted low maintenance no fish and the closest I could get to the look of her mother’s waterfalls.

A close up of the updated installation in 2016.
A close up of the updated installation in 2016.

First, I dismantled the disaster and rebuilt the waterfalls back as closely as possible, including the weirs. Next I set up a 3/4-horsepower external pump, complete with suction strainer, check valve, unions for easy service, ball valves for flow adjustment and auto-refill and a vented, insulated bench to cover the pump and valves. Then, we finished it off with some color-changing, remote-controlled LEDs and some new landscaping accents, such as a slate patio with dwarf Mondo Grass, a weeping red Japanese maple between the falls and other assorted flowers, plants and climbing vines (like Confederate Jasmine) with trestles. We now have a new friend and very happy customer.

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contractors-corner

Specifications:

Designer: Fred Johnson / Cheallisse Ricca

Installation:  Fred Johnson / Cheallisse Ricca

Location: Wilmington, NC

Contact Info:  910-471-4786 or 910-616-5334

Size: Approx. 4 feet high x 8 feet wide x 12 feet long

Components:

  • Performance Pro ¾-horsepower external pump
  • Complete with suction strainer,
  • Check valve,
  • Unions for easy service,
  • Ball valves for flow adjustment and auto-refill and a vented,
  • Insulated bench to cover the pump and valves
  • Color changing LED lighting w/remote.
  • Slate patio with dwarf Mondo Grass,
  • A red weeping Japanese maple between the falls and other assorted flowers and plants
  • Confederate Jasmine with trellises

Completion time:  8 days

Crew size: Fred Johnson, Cheallisse Ricca & Horace Bordeaux

Project cost: $10,000.00

Jan-Feb-2021 issue

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