How to Build a Free Standing Waterfall

Written by jill marie maier
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How to Build a Free Standing Waterfall
Waterfall (waterfall image by Michael Shake from

Create a beautiful, calming atmosphere inside or outside your home or business by building your own free-standing waterfall. The shimmering reflections and soothing sounds of cascading water drown out traffic and neighbourhood noise. In addition, the sight and sound of moving water attracts wildlife and promotes relaxation, healing and joy.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pump
  • Liner
  • Gravel
  • Breeze block (optional)
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Plastic tubing
  • Decorative elements of waterfall

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  1. 1

    Consider safety. Your waterfall will be a high-traffic, dramatic decorative focal point. Surrounding surfaces must be non-slip. Select a site strong enough to support your waterfall’s weight. If you intend to run your outdoor waterfall year-round in very hot or cold climates, build with materials that will tolerate temperature extremes.

  2. 2

    Decide how you want your free-standing waterfall to look. Building materials may include stone, ceramic, resin, glass, acrylic and/or metal. Effects range from elegant, sleek, shimmering and contemporary to natural, weathered and rustic.

  3. 3

    Decide how fast and high you want water to flow. From a pool or pond supply store or online dealer, purchase a pump large enough to move the volume of water needed to fill the waterfall at the speed you want it to flow.

  4. 4

    Go green if your climate allows. Solar panels set up very easily and solar pumps are quiet, creating a truly free-standing waterfall that does not need to be wired to an electrical socket.

  5. 5

    Price materials and measure your space. Waterfalls may be any size and shape, built from prefabricated shells or customised with cement or plastic liner. Installation time and expense vary based on materials and waterfall size. Ceramic, resin and plastic liner bases cost less and are lighter and quicker to install than stone, mirror or glass.

  6. 6

    To house the waterfall pump, excavate a hole and line it with plastic, purchase an attractive basin, or build a retaining wall around a rigid liner such as a prefabricated plastic pond shell.

  7. 7

    Ensure the base is level and securely supported by gravel. Use a shovel to backfill and tamp gravel down firmly with your foot.

  8. 8

    Secure the pump inside the waterfall base by surrounding the pump with stone or setting it on breeze blocks.

  9. 9

    Attach tubing to carry water from the pump through the waterfall’s decorative element to the top.

  10. 10

    Add water. Turn the pump on to ensure it’s working.

Tips and warnings

  • Decorate your waterfall by disguising the pump with a layer of attractive gravel, a bridge or a decorative casing. Add aquatic plants and animals, sculpture and/or waterproof lights.
  • For child safety, choose a waterfall design that does not have a pond or deep basin.
  • While free-standing waterfalls are low maintenance and minimise water use by continuously recycling, water may occasionally need to be changed, replenished due to evaporation, or treated to remove algae.

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