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How To Build a Pondless Waterfall

6th Aug 2018

How To Build a Pondless Waterfall


Video Transcript:

Ed: Good morning. I'm Ed Beaulieu with Aquascape. I'm here to show you today how easy it is to install a Pondless waterfall using our medium Pondless waterfall kit. Let's go over here and talk a little bit about our design. As you can see, we have our patio and seating area over here in front of us. We're going to be starting this reservoir out, right here next to the main seating area. The waterfall is going to start approximately 10 feet back somewhere over in this area. We want to make sure that we hit all the different viewpoints from inside as well as outside the home. Water is going to simply recirculate itself throughout the system, it's going to be very simple, easy to take care of, and it's going to just fill this entire space with the wonderful sound of falling water. 


Once we've laid out the design, the first step is to actually lay out the reservoir itself. So, what we're going to do is we're going to take the actual AquaBlox panels. We're going to lay them out in the appropriate location where we want our reservoir. And then we're going to simply spray paint around the area to do the excavation. We're going to go approximately four inches around the outside perimeter of the blocks. So, this is going to be the location of our reservoir. Right in the middle of this is going to be our Pondless Vault itself. So, this is going to be sitting right in this section, our plumbing is gonna come right out in the back. It's gonna go over into our berm and it's gonna go into our waterfall spillway which is going to recirculate the water right back into this reservoir. Before we got here today, you can tell obviously where our excavation and everything is going, but we did have all of our utilities marked before we started. We're using the small AquaBlox today. The small AquaBlox, we're only digging down 18 inches approximately. So, we're really not going that deep.

Brian: One of the important steps is to keep all the dirt on site. When we are building a waterfall, the key thing with the waterfall is you create a nice big berm. Make it look like it comes out of a hillside. The biggest mistake people will make with building waterfalls is the dirt will go down left and right really abruptly, making this look more like a volcano than a natural look at waterfall. So, keep the dirt on site. We want all of our edges around the perimeter of this basin to be at about 90 degrees. We want this bottom nice and flat and level, so when I put these AquaBlox and they sit flat. You don't want them sitting on any humps where these blocks are leaning towards the center or off to the sides. We put them on a flat bottom surface here, it makes them stronger and more solid. They'll actually support more weight that way. The other thing you want to think about is your digging conditions. If you're running into a lot of rock and gravel, you might want to come and bring a couple extra yards of sand out here. Sand will do two things, it will give the liner a nice cushion to sit on, the other thing it will do is to make it really easy to level this bottom off.

Ed: Our excavation is complete. It only took us about an hour for three of us today. Now, what we're going to do is we're going to finish building our AquaBlox, we're going to place these down here on the bottom, so we can make sure everything fits. Now, the Vault is same width as one of the AquaBlox. As you can see, this little part that extends out of the front, we call it the foot. This has to be excavated down, so this is flush with the soil. So, it's going to be nice and smooth going across the top. The reason we do that is the pump is going to sit down at the lowest portion inside of the reservoir, giving us access to all the stored water within the system. Our Pondless Vault is set. A couple things that you want to remember is make sure that it's level side to side as well as front to back before you put everything in place. What I mentioned before about having the AquaBlox rest on this ledge, this is an important piece as well. As you can see, the AquaBlox is going to go right across and it sits directly on that foot piece. This is going to allow all the water access down into our pumps. Once everything is positioned, as everything is looking good right now, we'll pull everything out. We're going to put in our geotextile, our liner, put the AquaBlox back in place, and then we're ready for our backfill.

Now that the liner is spread out on the bottom, we're ready for our AquaBlox to go in. This particular kit comes with one layer of the underlayment fabric and then the rubber liner. It is an option to bring in a second piece of the underlayment fabric. We always put it in, it's basically cheap insurance, it's going to help increase the protective value of that liner. Once this is all in place, we'll take our AquaBlox, put everything in place and then we're going to do our backfilling process.

Brian: So, our AquaBlox are all set. Now, we're gonna start back filling. It's very important to backfill from opposing sides. We want to come in with a nice loose material, so, we're using a nice loose, pulverized topsoil. This will allow water to drain and move through it freely. Another option if you have it on site would be sand. Sand works just as easy and sometimes often better depending on what you're digging conditions are.

Ed: So, what we're doing is we're placing in some these cobblestones in here. We started out with a couple bigger pieces, now we're just filling in around it with some smaller ones, and then we're going to come across the top of that with some river rock. Let's see the type of river rock we're using here. It's a bigger piece, inch and a half to three-inch. As you can tell when you look at the AquaBlox, it's big enough where it's not going to fall down inside of there. You want to stay away from pea gravel and smaller rocks because they can get wedged up inside of the AquaBlox themselves.

We have a simple adapter to use that when we're hooking up our pump to the plumbing. So, this is going to adapt to our two-inch piping system. So, that makes our adapter. So now, we could screw this right on top of our AquaSurge pump. We going to grab our pump now, and we're going to simply place it down into the waterfall vault. The discharge is going to be lined up perfectly with our hole in the back, and our plumbing line is going to come right up here up to the top of our waterfall. We just made a simple transition down from the surrounding grade, coming in nice and smooth into our vault. Bring our plumbing line in, and we'll get our PVC glue to glue that up. Our stream bed excavation has been completed. As you can see we kind of carved this whole area out, leveling off the bottom for our water to flow from the top of the berm down into the reservoir. Our waterfall is going to be crashing down right in between this section. It's going to be working it's way in between these two big boulders that we placed earlier. We're going to line this whole section with the EPDM liner, we're going to cover it all up with a mixture of granite and moss rock.

Now, that we have a stream bed liner in place. We're going to do a simple overlap going down into our reservoir. There's no need to make a seam in this application and it's because we have an elevation change. As you can see here, we have approximately six to eight inches of elevation change from the stream bed to the top of our reservoir. So, what we're going to do is we have the bottom liner coming up underneath, we're going to simply take this liner and overlap it down inside.

Brian: So, we're well into our stream construction here. We've got a couple rocks set. Usually when we start waterfalls and streams we always start at the waterfall area. The key thing is come up with a frame rock over here. We call these frame rocks. The frame rock really determines where the water is going to spill from. So, we got our frame rock here and then our spill stone. I like to set this one first, then set the spill stone, then come in with another frame rock. The fewest rocks you can use or the fewer rocks you can use when building a waterfall, the more natural it's going to look. When you start stacking a lot of little rocks on top of each other, it always looks man-made.

Ed: We have our final position set for a waterfall spillway. What we did was excavated the area out behind our waterfall stones. We compacted that soil, so we don't have any settling issues. We laid the liner in place, then we cover it up with a fine layer of the stone. It's only about two inches thick, but what it does, it allows us to level everything off and it allows any drainage or any water that's going to come out of the spillway, not to get behind the liner. So, what we want to do is place the spillway in place appropriate elevation, so it's gonna come in, we want to try to hide that lip with our waterfall rocks. We have to make sure that this unit is leveled off. So, we're just going to check it real quick for our level. Everything looks good. We're level side-to-side, we also want to have it leaning slightly forward about a quarter of a bubble forward just to aid in that water flow coming out of the spillway.

Our spillway is set. Now, what we want to do is we want to take off our tightening nut, the rubber gasket, and we're going to take the rubber liner. We're going to bring it up behind the unit. Want to make sure that there's a little slack behind here because you don't want to put tension on it. So, I'm just going to pull that down and make sure there's a little slack in the back. Take my fingers here, and I'm just going to make kind of an outline, then what I'll do once I get that done and fold this liner back, you can see just a really faint outline over on this side. Take a good sharp razor knife, then I'm gonna slice that out. I'm just finishing up my cut through the liner. I'm going to pull the liner forward. I'm just going to place it right over the hole. Use our rubber washer, that's going to give us a good solid seal over here on the back. Now, we're going to come back in with the big tightening nut on the back. Basically just want to go hand tight initially, just snug everything up and take a big pair of Channellocks here. Tighten it up just a little past.

Final piece. We're going to hook up our NPT fitting here in the back. Take a little bit of our silicone that comes in our installation kit. In the same philosophy, I want to go hand tight first and then after that we'll do it with the wrench. Doesn't need to be real tight, we have that silicone in there and it's going to seal itself up really nice. We're all ready to set up our PVC pipe. We've already cut it to the proper length. We're going to use our PVC glue. Remember when you press it in, press it and hold it because it can ride itself back out. So, you want to hold it for a few seconds. Once everything is in position, next step, just going to simply be backfilling. So, we're going to take our soil, start coming in back over the piping, then we'll finish off our berm. We'll bring in a couple more wheel barrels of soil, place in some more character stones around the back for our retaining as necessary. And we're in good shape. Our waterfalls are set, all three of them, the bottom one, middle, and our waterfall spillway. Now, it's time to do our foaming. We're going to use our foam gun. And I'm going to take it behind the waterfall rocks. Right at the joint where the rubber liner comes up directly behind the waterfall rock, I'm going to put some foam in there and it's going to expand, and it's going to seal up that gap in between there.

Brian: All right guys, our gravel is coming in. But one of the things we want to do before all the gravel goes down is put in our underwater lights. The main reason we like to do that, because I like to set the light, run the cable and then just bury the cable with the gravel. It's a nice time-saving trick. With a waterfall like this, I've got more of a sheet of water that going to come down. There's two different options. I can take this light, tuck it back behind the sheet of water shining up, and it creates a really neat glowing chamber type look. We have another light called a bullet spotlight. The bullet spotlights are better from distances coming back at the waterfall. The advantage to that is you light up a little bit more space, creating a different effect. Now, that our waterfall and stream is running and is really the best time to start doing your edges. The worst thing you can do is finish all your edges first, turn this on, and not see where things are leaking. Now, that I can see exactly where my water level is in my stream, I know exactly how high I need to get my liner here. So, what I'm doing here is I'm just going to take this liner, fold it down and then back dirt right up to it. Go ahead, Ed. I love leaving a little extra liner just in case later something settles. I've got a little bit more liner there to play with. I can always come back and pull it up and pack dirt underneath .The key with edges is mix it up a little bit. Some areas, we want to bring dirt right to the edge. But we don't want to do that all the way around. Other areas, we want to do gravel right up to the edge. Mix it up a little bit and it look a little bit more natural. 

Ed: With a professional  Aquascape Pondless waterfall kit and a proven step-by-step process, you can transform any landscape into an aquatic paradise. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.

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