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Building a Backyard Waterwheel

Updated on February 8, 2015

Who is The Waterwheelman?

This is the story of a backyard landscaping project that grew. When my Dad retired, he wanted to build a beautiful water garden of ponds and a stream with a waterwheel. The problem was how to make the wheel. Although the concept seemed simple enough, building a waterwheel that would look good and run well was a big challenge. It took a lot of trial and error to reinvent a perfect working waterwheel, but he did it. Now he enjoys sharing his waterwheel blueprints with enthusiasts all over the world.

Image Credit: The Waterwheelman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

My parents have been enjoying their lovely back yard water feature for many years. Since it was so hard to find out how to make a good-looking, working wheel, I convinced Dad to draw up his method and make the plans available on the internet. This was quite a step, considering that he didn't think he'd ever bother to have internet. (Remember, it was quite a few years ago.)

So he drew up the plans, wrote easy to follow instructions, had blueprints printed, and we made a website so people could buy the plans from him. His goal was to make the blueprints and instructions so easy to follow that even the most inexperienced woodworker could have the satisfaction of building the project, and when it was finished, it would work!

Follow this link to learn more about the plans available. Waterwheel Plans

Image Credit: The Waterwheelman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Dad's waterwheel and landscape with pond
Dad's waterwheel and landscape with pond

Reinventing the Wheel

My Dad always spent a lot of time in his woodworking shop. He earned his living as a carpenter, cabinet maker and contractor. You'd think that building a waterwheel would be easy. The problem was that there were no plans to be found. This was in the days before information was at your fingertips on the internet. In the end, he figured out the plan and method for himself with a lot of trial and error. His wheel is simple to make, runs smoothly and looks charmingly authentic in his garden setting.

Image Credit: The Waterwheelman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Waterwheel at night
Waterwheel at night

Waterwheels Everywhere

Saving other water gardeners a lot of frustration

This has been a satisfying adventure. Do-it-yourselfers from all over the world have purchased the plans. Dad has a world map with pins for the locations of wheels built from his blueprints. People have sent him photos and told the story of their own backyard projects. It is so satisfying to hear of his plans making the difference for all of these people who now have a working waterwheel in their yard. He even made a wheel for me and carried the parts halfway across the country so he could assemble it in my garage. Then he spent the Christmas vacation building a pond and stream for it. That's commitment!

Image Credit: Author's photo

Do-it-yourself Backyard Waterwheel Photos - Here are some of the waterwheels people have built from the plans

Click thumbnail to view full-size

My parents' back yard is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature. The water gardens are surrounded by flowers, shrubs and hanging baskets. We sit on the flagstone terrace and drink our coffee to the trickle of water falling from the waterwheel.

An endless variety of birds and other wildlife come to refresh themselves by the stream. It's a nature lover's paradise. Winter, spring, summer and fall, the yard is alive with the creatures who have chosen to make their home here.

Image Credit: The Waterwheelman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Water Lily
Water Lily

Guestbook Comments - Share your thoughts!

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    • profile image

      kenny cohen 15 months ago

      It looks incredible i tried the link but it's not working. would love to get the plans.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      These are lovely. I'd love to have a garden with one of these designs. Visited the website as well and enjoyed all the photos. Thank you for sharing this.

    • profile image

      IreneL11 4 years ago

      I think your dad is great!

    • Art-Aspirations profile image

      Art-Aspirations 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for letting me know about this. I had no idea it was featured.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a cool idea, love it, saw your lens featured on Editor for the Day: Bakerwoman Shows Us Some Great Garden Wildlife Habitat Lenses

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 4 years ago from Virginia

      Awesome project! Gotta have one soon! Wish I could bless this fine lens.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      A rustic waterwheel always adds a nice warm touch to a water feature. Your Dad's plans are great.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Fascinating and gorgeous! Pinned to my board "how does your garden grow."

    • Art-Aspirations profile image

      Art-Aspirations 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks, Tom. Dad will be so glad to hear from you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago


      I built my waterwheel using your plans over 8 years ago when I was recovering from my back surgery, and it is still going strong. The plans are easy to follow and the results are beautiful!! Thanks for including a picture of our wheel on your website.

      Lynda: Your website is great-very professional. I'm sure your dad appreciates the work you put into it on his behalf.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      Great job! Your very first lens and you really nailed it! I loved your story about your dad's waterwheel. Angel blessings.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Your dad is talented! I am amazed how beautiful his waterwheel is and I love his backyard retreat! Blessed :)

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 5 years ago

      Quite interesting.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a great story.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      So pretty. I would love looking out at that.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      How lovely, a water wheel garden

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I'm lucky enough to live near quite a few water wheels. The Plymouth area is old, so they still exist on a lot of rivers in the region. Having one in your own backyard would be a beautiful addition to any property. Excellent job with this lens, blessed!

    • priscillab profile image

      priscillab 5 years ago

      This is a magical idea for a home. Lovely lens. Thanks for sharing it. So very pretty.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      HOW MAGICAL! Ohh that would be so fun to have a waterwheel! How perfect!! Angel blessed.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 5 years ago from Minnesota

      LOVE mills!!! i have one room in my home decorated with water wheel pictures, and my basement stairwell has a watermill scene on it. See my painting with acrylics page... for a picture..

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a delight...your Dad did the waterwheel so just right for that old world wonder feel and this serves as a wonderful tribute to his creative art...I love that you have included several example from folks using his plans to one success after another. I don't have a yard right now but a I do have hope to one day create a dream come true yard and your Dad's water wheel has just found a place in my dreams...lovely!

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      This is really a great garden ornament feature. Your family is full of talented artistic people, and I loved the pictures, too.

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 6 years ago

      i would love to have one of them in my yard. beautiful

    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens!!! Your father appears to be incredibly talented, and his tenacity is something to admire.

    • Art-Aspirations profile image

      Art-Aspirations 6 years ago

      @julieannbrady: My dad loves to chat about waterwheels. If you click over to his website and get in touch with him, I'm sure he'd be happy to talk with you.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Can I arrange a waterwheel consultation for my backyard? It looks fabulous and I've always loved the sound of a "waterfall" ... a waterwheel looks cool ... can I generate a little electricity too? [Jacksonville, FL]