7 Proven Steps

to designing, planning, & building an amazing pondless waterfall.

Steal our step-by-step pondless waterfall guide.

by Gregg Sawyer 

March 25, 2018

Pond-less waterfalls are simply a re-circulating waterfall/stream without the presence of a pond.  You get a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of running water without the maintenance of a pond.  Pond-less water features are becoming a more common choice among water feature enthusiasts because they are safer, they cost less, they fit into smaller space and they are easy to maintain.  An ideal option for families with small children, you can add the sights and sounds of a natural waterfall without the safety concerns. Waterfalls also take up less space and can be tucked into any corner of a landscape and are an ideal option for adding curb appeal near the front door.

pond-less diagramBefore we get into the top 5 reasons why everyone needs a Pond-less Waterfall, let’s explain how it works. It might be difficult to imagine a waterfall and stream without a pond. Where does the water go? A pond-less waterfall works much like a regular pond. The reservoir is dug and then lined with underlayment and EPDM liner. A vault (holds the pump) is placed at the bottom near an edge. It is surrounded by perforated piping and then covered in cobblestone, river rock and filled with water. The water is then circulated from beneath the rocks and gravel by a submersible pump that sits on the bottom of the vault.  The pipe runs from the vault to the top of the waterfall where it flows into a spillway. The spillway collects and distributes the water into an overflowing waterfall. The waterfall flows back down to the reservoir. Since the water level never pools above the level of rocks, it looks as if the water has disappeared.

1. Much Safer than a Pond

Safety concerns are limited because there is no pool of water.  This is what makes pond-less waterfalls such an appealing option for families with little ones.  As a father of three, having the kids play in our pond-less waterfall is a lot less worrisome compared to them playing near our pond. A pond-less waterfall is a great option if you are concerned about safety issues associated with a traditional pond.  Putting a pond in your front yard can also be a bit worrisome when it comes to neighborhood kids and so forth.  A pond-less removes that worry.

2. Fit into Small Spaces

Pond-less waterfalls can make that small weed patch in the corner of your yard come to life or they can flow and twist around your entire backyard. Space is not an object when it comes to imagining a pond-less water feature in your backyard.  Unlike the traditional pond, typically much more space is needed. Pond-less waterfalls can fit into very small spaces.

3. Cost less than a Pond

Cost can be a big factor when considering the type of water feature you want. In most cases, the price of a pond-less waterfall will be less than a pond because there is less labor involved, as well as less rock and materials. Operating costs are less too, because you are not dealing with a balanced ecosystem. You do not need to use as many pond products or run the pond 24 hours/7 days a week.

4. Low-Maintenance

Do you know the best part of a pond-less waterfall? Yep, you guessed it… the maintenance is super easy. Since there is no aquatic life, it’s okay to be more aggressive in treating it with the proper algaecides when necessary. Since the water in the reservoir is hidden from the sun, there is also less evaporation. Pond-less waterfalls are typically installed with an automatic fill. Since the reservoir is hidden from view, it is hard to know when to add water.  An auto-fill acts much like a toilet float; when the water level is low, it adds the necessary water. The water source can come from your spigot or your existing irrigation system. Once an auto-fill is installed, you can simply sit back and enjoy.

5. Serenity and Relaxation

There is just something special about the sounds of a babbling brook.  Moving water is just so tranquil and relaxing.

“Running water is one of the universal parables, appealing to something primitive and ineradicable in human nature.  Day and night it preaches – sermons without words.”

-Torrey Bradford, The Clerk of the Woods

The pond-less waterfall has made many water enthusiasts who were previously unable to enjoy the sights and sounds of a flowing waterfall, very happy. It’s a great alternative for those who are trying to get their feet wet, or looking to fit a little bit of paradise into their own backyard. When all else fails…go pond-less!

Lakeside Retreat

This project is a rebuild of an original water feature we had installed in 2005.  It is a 60′ waterfall with over 30 ton of moss boulders.  We completely removed the existing water feature and backfilled the space.  We removed all of the flagstone steppers running along the side and re-configured them to match the […]

About the author 

Gregg Sawyer

Gregg is founder/partner of Sawyer Waterscaping in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He built his first pond in his parent's backyard at age 12 and has had a passion for designing and construction natural waterscapes ever since.

  • Wonderful Blog!! I am glad after reading your blog, you have shared here informative and entertaining information about why you should have a pond-less waterfall? This is very helpful for us. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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