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How To Build A Pondless Waterfall

Updated on February 16, 2013
My mother and stepfather turned an old set of cement stairs into a beautiful waterfall!
My mother and stepfather turned an old set of cement stairs into a beautiful waterfall!

Building a pondless waterfall - making it easy

Pondless waterfalls are a great way to add a water feature to your yard or garden without the huge expense. You can have the beauty of the waterfall, the relaxing sound of running water and a natural setting without the expense and liabilty of a pond. Also, the maintenance on a pondless waterfull is much less. The only downside is there is no place for fish, and little room for plants.

Waterfall kits are available online, or you can always hire someone to come in and do the waterfall for you. You can also purchase individual parts for the waterfall from any pond supplier. Or you can build one yourself!


Benefits of a pondless waterfall:

  • can be installed in a small area
  • much less work to install than a pond
  • much less maintenance than a pond
  • less cost than a pond
  • uses less water
  • no liability of open water
  • attracts small wildlife such as birds and frogs

  • Items needed to build a pondless waterfall:

    A hole in the ground
    A submersible water pump
    pond liner
    underlayment
    containment pool
    pvc pipe and glue

    Ok now lets get started!



This is the old cement steps that they started with.
This is the old cement steps that they started with.

Steps for Building a Pondless Waterfall

Step 1: My parents had an old concrete stairway in their back yard that they didn't use anymore. The stairway would have been a problem to get rid of so they converted it into a pondless waterfall. If you don't have an old stairway, you can use an area with a hill, or build up an area into a hill. If you build up an area make sure you do it so that it doesn't wash away with the first rain.

They started with a 5' X 10' piece of pond liner, a small pond tub, and a water pump. They hand picked rocks from a nearby river bed. If you don't have anywhere that you are able to get rocks, they can be purchased at a garden supply store, or Lowe's and Home Depot.

Step 2: Use a small tub use to hold the water. The hole needs to be a little larger than the tub. Once you get the tub set in below the bottom step or at the bottom of your hill, fill in around it, use a 5' X 10' piece of old carpet foam or some other material to lay out on the steps or the hill surface. The pond liner will go over it. The material is to protect the pond liner from the rough surface of the ground or concrete. Place some patio bricks or other stones on the edges of the steps or at the edges of the hill under the liner to make a path for the waterfall and tuck it all in to keep it in place.


The tub is in place.
The tub is in place.
Liner is down and stones are placed around to hold liner and guide water down.
Liner is down and stones are placed around to hold liner and guide water down.

Step 3: (Optional but recommended) My parents dug out in front of the tub and put in some crushed stone. They put flat stones over it once they were done. They put in the crushed stone to help keep the tub in place better.


Step 4: Place the stones over the liner to cover the liner and to give the water a trail to follow. It's tricky stacking the rocks to look natural and get the water to fall over them. You will want to hide the liner as much as possible. It will take a lot of tweaking. It helps if you sort the stones by shape and size. Start with bigger ones first and place them in key locations to create your trail for the waterfall. Then use the medium and smaller sized stones to fill in.

Step 5: Place the pump in the tub and run the lines up to the top of the waterfall. This step will vary based on the pump that you bought. There should be directions with the pump for installing.

Voila!  A beautiful waterfall!
Voila! A beautiful waterfall!

Finishing Up

Now you have a beautiful waterfall! You just need some finishing touches. Add plants and flowers, lawn ornaments, or whatever you like. Birdbaths and/or feeders will help attract wildlife. All that is left is to add some lawn furniture so you have somewhere to sit and enjoy all of your hard work!

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