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2b. Designing Your Pond - Planning a Waterfall
The waterfall is one feature that can make the difference between the average and the extraordinary water garden. Waterfalls not only add a tranquil sound to your aquatic ecosystem, they add water movement and oxygenation. The construction of the waterfall must be planned carefully. Water has the unique quality of finding the path of least resistance. If this path is around a rock and into your yard then your pond will be quickly drained.

These diagrams illustrate the construction of a waterfall using an additional liner.
Although less economical, buying a liner large enough to line both your pond and waterfall ensures water containment within the pond. If planning and care are taken during construction, a waterfall can be one of the major attractions of the garden.

Remember: Any splattering or trickling water must be confined to a liner area that flows back into the pond. Waterfalls that are constructed on newly worked soil, rather than a natural slope, must be settled and supported properly. As the ground underneath contracts and settles, low spots can develop along the margins allowing water from the fall to escape over the liner edge and seep into the surrounding ground. If two liners are used in the waterfall, make sure there is plenty of overhang on both liners at the point of overlap between the two.

The addition of a water feature increases turbulence in the pond and additional gravel may be needed to prevent soil erosion from pots that may cloud the water. Further, a sink hole will allow silt to settle in an area that can be cleaned from time to time. An additional sink hole lower than the water intake of the pump will provide a safe area for fish to survive should a problem, such as an unusually hard winter or an emergency water change, arise. All of these questions should be considered before beginning construction of a waterfall.

Minimum flow rates required to give:
  A thin 1/4" layer of water over a smooth lip A bold 1" film of water over a waterfall lip
4" lip 200gph 400gph
6" lip 300gph 600gph
10" lip 700gph 1200gph
16" lip 1300gph 2100gph
24" lip 3000gph 4000gph

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