Garden waterfall ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

A garden waterfall is an expression of tranquillity. It creates a visual and audio sensation that helps to balance a peaceful feeling. Building a waterfall takes hard work and imagination.


One key to building a waterfall is to make sure that you have installed an underground pump that will process 50 to 100 per cent of your water back through the waterfall. To recycle the water, place a catch basin or small pond at the bottom of your waterfall. Design your waterfall in scale to the rest of your garden. If you have a small garden, a 10-foot waterfall will look extremely out of place.

Inset Waterfall

If your garden rests on a hill, then part of your work is already finished. View your hillside setting from all vantage points before you decide on your waterfall location. Once you have chosen the location for your waterfall, dig a canal that is slightly wider than your intended waterfall. Line the canal with a waterproof plastic liner. Next, stack large stones to form the bedrock of your waterfall. Install your pump according to its included instructions and run the hose beside the waterfall. Hide the hose, but make sure it is easy to access in case it ever needs to be repaired. Stack stones and plant groundcover around the waterfall. The waterfall will run on a natural course from the top of the hill to the bottom.

Steep Waterfall

Choose a quiet corner in your garden. Place a waterproof plastic liner under the waterfall area to help contain the water and control splashing. Build a rock wall in the corner of your garden out of river stones. The waterfall can be as high as the rock wall. Start stacking large river stones in an aesthetic form that looks like a rock staircase. Once the large stones are placed, fill gaps with smaller stones. Install your pump according to its included directions, and let the water run down the waterfall area. Move your rocks until you have the effect that you want from your waterfall. Surround the waterfall with more stones and plant high-humidity plants around the waterfall and among the rocks.

Level Ground

A waterfall in a garden designed on level ground can look natural. The secret is not to build the waterfall too tall. Even a two-foot waterfall will produce the desired visual and audio sensation. Build up the waterfall area by using a mound of dirt that is stair-stepped from the highest point to ground level. Cover the dirt with a flexible pool liner. Install your pump according to its included directions, and test the water flow down the pool liner to make sure the water is following the path they you want. Make adjustments now before you cover the liner with rocks. Then, cover the liner with larger stones. Add smaller stones to create different sounds of water running over the rocks. Disguise the edges of the waterfall with stones, and plant shrubs and flowers to hide the created slope.

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About the Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.