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Homemade Pondless Waterfalls

Melissa Worcester
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Enjoy a waterfall that has water splashing down and disappearing into an area of your yard covered by landscaping stones. You can buy kits to build such a thing, or you can buy some supplies and make one yourself. You need to know some things to make this do-it-yourself project a success.

You can build your own pondless waterfall.

Supplies Needed

You need something to line the basin with. Buy pond liner, a pre-formed plastic pond insert, or save money by buying a large plastic storage bin. The basin will be buried in your yard and invisible, so the bin might be your least expensive option. Buy a pump made for a waterfall. It might seem that a sump pump would do the job, but these kinds of pumps are not meant to run continuously and may also use a good deal more electricity than a waterfall pump. You need a waterfall weir, which is a specially shaped basin for the top of the waterfall, or you can just use a hose and hide the end of it under some rocks.

How it Works

The water flows down the waterfall and over and through the landscaping stones spread out on the ground. But they are not actually on the ground, because buried in the ground is a basin where the water collects. In the basin is a pump that pumps the water up a hose or tubing, back to the top of the waterfall. The key is to cover the basin with a screen of some type that will allow water to get in but keep out dirt and other material that might clog the pump.


A waterfall has many benefits as a landscaping accent. It is attractive and produces a soothing sound that you may be able to enjoy from inside the house, depending on the location. A pondless waterfall has the same benefits, without the extra work to keep a pond clean. It is also safer if you have pets or small children that may be endangered by an area of open water in your yard.

What Can Go Wrong

When deciding how big to make your basin, take the length of your waterfall into account. The rock-filled basin will not hold as much water as an empty basin would hold. Your basin needs to hold more than enough water to cover the length of the waterway. If it doesn't, the basin will be dry before water falls back down to recirculate, and your pump will burn out. But the basin needs to be big enough so it can hold all of the water if you turn the waterfall off.

What To Do In Winter

If you live in an area where it freezes in the winter, you will want to remove the pump and drain the hoses before winter. Store the pump inside where the temperature will remain above freezing. Consult the manual that comes with your pump to see whether it would be best to store the pump in a bucket of water. When reassembling your waterfall system in the spring, make sure there is enough water in the system before turning the pump on.