Backyard Waterfalls and Ponds

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 20, 2016

Backyard waterfall on stones

One of the most soothing sounds is the sound of running water. People will spend thousands of dollars on vacations simply to unwind from their stressful jobs, their chaotic lives. For about the same price as one of these vacations, you can create a similar paradise by installing a backyard waterfall and pond. New installation techniques have drastically reduced the cost of putting in this luxurious addition to your backyard that often will still more than pay for itself when it comes time to sell your home. Stop listening to the barking dogs and the screaming children and settle in with a nice book next to your backyard waterfall.


Companies now offer DIY waterfall and pond systems. Lighter, artificial rocks eliminate the need for heavy lifting. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, there’s no reason you can’t install a backyard waterfall and pond yourself. Putting in a little extra money for a contractor, though, does still have some important advantages.

Professional installers have experience shaping and designing rock and synthetic rock formations for the most appealing appearance and effect. More than simply finding the right place for the rocks, they may still need to be sculpted to control the water flow into your backyard pond. If you’re planning on putting fish and plant life in and around pond, as most homeowners do, a local contractor will be able to design and advise you on the best filtering system for your local climate.

They’ll show you how and where to create holes in the ice if your pond freezes over in the winter. These holes will allow the fish to survive. Finally, a local contractor will be able to customize your backyard waterfall and pond to fit the natural contours of your yard to create a more stunning effect than a cookie-cutter installation package.

Backyard Ponds

Part of the custom options include what type of backyard pond you choose to install. These are the two main kinds of backyards available:

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  • Preformed ponds—Just as the name says, these ponds are pre-formed. They allow for the cheapest, easiest installation but provide fewer design options. They are usually made from fiberglass. You can choose either a fully preformed pond with the pond edging already created or you can choose a partially preformed edging and customize the edging yourself. If you choose a partially formed pond, make sure you decide on the edging before you buy anything so you can make sure the materials match.
  • Flexible, vinyl liners—These ponds are created with vinyl liners allowing you to create any size and shape pond you want. They can be more expensive, but won’t have as great an effect on the total cost of your project as rock selection and size. If you want your waterfall and pond to really stand out this is probably the type of pond you’ll want to choose.


One of the hidden reasons for spending a little more on the initial installation is the maintenance the pond and waterfall will need. Again, a lot of this depends on the climate where you’re living. For warmer climates where pond freezes are less of an issue, a high-quality filtering system where you constantly leave the water running will make maintenance extremely simple. Keeping the water running will reduce your pond’s susceptibility to algae which will make your pond green and clouded. This is especially important since the FDA has taken many of the algaecide chemicals off the market. You’ll also want to prevent dirt run-off into your pond as this can turn the pond white and clouded. Every pond is different and will have different maintenance requirements and damage prevention. Make sure you talk to a professional before and after you install your pond to keep this amazing investment in good condition.


  1. Bob, August 4:

    I have a backyard waterfall, about 20 foot drop. Water stopped flowing from above. The pump is fine. There is an obstruction about 3 ft. in from below. I can’t bypass it from below or above with either a pipe wire or with the hose, with or with out the water on. It’s buried alongside the waterfall. Who do I call? plumber? installer? Ghost busters?

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