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How to Build a Backyard Waterfall

How to Build a Backyard Waterfall

Hey, everybody. Ed Beaulieu here. I've been designing and building waterfall features for more than 20 years. And today, I wanna show you just how easy it is to transform your outdoor living space using an Aquascape DIY Backyard Waterfall Kit. 

Creating a beautiful backyard waterfall can be a great weekend project when using an Aquascape DIY Backyard Waterfall Kit. The first step in building a waterfall is to determine an appropriate location for your new feature. Once you've determined a location, mark out the area for the reservoir basin that holds the water that will re-circulate over your new waterfall. The waterfall kit contains a Pondless Waterfall Vault that will house your pump, and two AquaBlox that will make room for the water in your system and support the decorative stone at the base of your disappearing waterfall.

Assembling the AquaBlox is easy and takes just a few minutes with no tools required. Place one of the two large panels on the ground and evenly distribute and connect the four small panels, as shown. Attach the second large panel on the opposite side of the first, and complete the assembly by securing the two side panels to the back and front sides of the module. Place the Pondless Waterfall Vault and AquaBlox on the ground for reference, and outline the components with brightly-colored spray paint, leaving a six-inch buffer for ease of installation. Dig the space to a depth of 18 inches. The excavated soil can be used to help build up the waterfall area, or discarded into a planting bed.

Use a flathead shovel to carve straight walls within the basin and prepare a separate cavity for the Pondless Waterfall Vault to sit eight inches lower than the shelf created for the AquaBlox. Be sure to tamp the basin floor to create a level base for the components, and make sure the vertical walls are cut straight to avoid obstructions.

Now that the basin is excavated, place the units into the basin to check for proper fit. The AquaBlox should sit level side by side on the basin shelf, with one block extending over and resting on the foot of the Pondless Waterfall Vault. With the excavation complete and the water basin created, you can temporarily remove the components from the basin and install the underlayment inliner. The underlayment is a thick woven fabric that will protect the bottom of the liner from sharp rocks and tree roots. Unfold the underlayment and form it to your basin, starting at the bottom.

Install the rubber liner the same way. Just be sure the excess material is brought to one corner of the basin where you intend to build your waterfall. Once the liner is set, you can place the basin components back into position on top of the liner. Wrap the system by folding the liner and underlayment over the top of the basin components, and proceed to backfill around the entire perimeter of the basin with loose soil or sand. This will help lock the vault and AquaBlox in place and avoid any shifting over time.

While the liner is folded back, dig a trench to accommodate the kink-free hose that will connect the Pondless Waterfall Vault to the waterfall spillway. This is also a good time to excavate an area for the waterfall that will fall into your basin. The waterfall spillway is a diffuser that will make it easier to create your waterfall. Once the waterfall area has been prepared, unfold the liner and set a few larger rocks on top of the AquaBlox to frame out your waterfall and retain the dirt on the backside of your basin. Install the pump into the Pondless Waterfall Vault and hook up the plumbing. Attach the threaded barbed fitting to the kink-free hose with the metal clamp provided, and run it through the side discharge port to connect the plumbing to the pump below.

The hose can then be laid into the excavated pipe trench and stabilized in the basin with gravel around the Pondless Waterfall Vault. Use a scrap piece of underlayment around the pipe discharge port to prevent any gravel from falling into the component. Finish securing the pipe with rock work and make sure the area where the hose exits the basin is built up with dirt to avoid forming a low edge that could cause a leak. Backfill the pipe trench with loose soil and prepare the waterfall and stream area by carving out a path in the berm.

The use of a waterfall spillway provides a perfect start to build a natural-looking waterfall. In preparation for setting the spillway, excavate a flat area in your berm and tamp it down to prevent settling. Fold the liner back and place framing rocks in the stream, using gravel to build up and level the spillway. Continue building the waterfall and stream with various sized rocks connecting the spillway to the basin.

Prepare the spillway to accept the plumbing by bringing the liner up over the back of the unit, and use your finger to outline the intake on the liner. Use scissors or utility knife to cut out the marked section of liner. Place the rubber gasket over the threaded intake on the back of the spillway and slip the liner over the fitting. Complete the seal by sliding the rubber gasket over the component and threading on the plastic compression nut. Tighten down the fitting with a pair of Channellock pliers and prepare to install the barbed hose adapter by applying silicone to the threads of the component. Install the adapter, and once again, tighten it down with Channellock pliers. A couple of turns past hand tight should do the trick. Connect the kink-free hose to the barbed fitting and secure the connection with the use of a metal clamp provided. If connecting the hose to the barbed fitting proves to be too difficult, soften the pipe by submerging it in warm water or heating it with a hair dryer.

Once the plumbing is connected, wrap the liner around the spillway unit and backfill the area with loose soil. Use a flat stone to help blend the spillway into the landscape, or bring in plants to help naturalize it. Using waterfall foam will improve the aesthetics of the waterfall by filling the gaps between the rocks where water would naturally be lost. Apply the expandable foam into the joints between the waterfall spillway and the framing rocks or the base of any stones along the stream in waterfall where you want to divert the water from disappearing behind the rock work. Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the outer shell of the foam to harden before molding it down and using gravel to disguise it.

Complete waterfall construction by adding gravel to the stream bed and add the finishing touches by setting accent stones around the perimeter of the basin. Once the accent stones are set, you can trim the excess liner and work on the edging. Use different types of edge treatments to help naturalize your water feature. A gravel edge can be done by trenching the liner around the perimeter of the basin and backfilling the area with stone. A dirt edge involves folding the liner back behind the perimeter of the rocks and backfilling the area with soil, and eventually, mulch. Fill the basin with water and add plants to help blend your new water feature into its surroundings. Once the water level has reached the top of the basin, you can turn on the pump and see your landscape come to life. Nothing helps transform an outdoor living space like a DIY Backyard Waterfall Kit.

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