How to plan and build a small garden waterfall

Updated November 21, 2016

Water features, such as garden waterfalls, are an attractive and soothing feature to add to your property. The sizes and shapes of home waterfalls vary greatly. You could buy a fibreglass kit to make a waterfall but these are expensive and the finished product does not have a natural appearance. Making your own waterfall gives the finished a much more realistic look and costs little money to construct.

Decide and sketch out the general shape and size you want the finished product to be. The sketch will help you decide on proper design later on. Consider the slope of the fall. Also consider what size the pool of water will be below the waterfall. Decide if you want the base of the pool to be lined with stones to look like a river bed or with rubber to minimise erosion.

Dig the pool between 3.6 and 4.2 m (12 and 14 feet) wide and between 15 and 30 cm (6 and 12 inches) deep with a shovel. Fill the bottom of the hole with 2.5 cm (1 inch) of sand and pat it down to compact it. Then line the pool with stones. When digging out the dirt for the pool, place the dug up soil on the edge of the pool where the waterfall will be.

Adjust the shape of the mound of dirt to represent the general shape and size of the waterfall you designed in Step 1. The fall should be between 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24 inches) tall. It can either be stair-stepped or sloped.

Line the slope or stair-stepped mound with stones. The smaller rocks should be up top, while the larger rocks should be at the bottom. Leave the larger rocks hanging over the pool so that the water flows into the pool and not onto the ground. When building the waterfall with the rocks, place the hoses for the pump behind the rocks to hide them.

Insert the pump into the pool. You do not want it to touch either the sides or the bottom. If it does touch, it will restrict the flow of water.

Fill the pool with water. Turn on the pump to check the water flow. If necessary, adjust the position of the pump. The water will run down the mound and into the pool, cycling back up.


Test your pump before setting it all up to ensure that it works properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketch
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Stones
  • Pump
  • Hoses
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