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How do I calculate what size basin I need for a pondless waterfall? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I calculate what size basin I need for a pondless waterfall?

Q: How do I calculate what size basin I need for a pondless waterfall?

Robert – Waverly, TN

A:  With the help of a few friends, installing a pondless waterfall is an easy way to upgrade your land- or waterscape. If you are planning to design and build your own feature, here’s how to do the math to determine your basin size.


Step 1: Calculate total amount of water in your stream

Sound tricky? It’s not. To calculate the water that’s in motion in your stream, first measure your stream’s length, width and depth. Then plug those numbers into this equation: L x W x (0.25 x D of stream, generally 1 to 2 inches) x 7.48.

Here’s an example. If your stream is 25 feet long, 2 feet wide and 1 inch deep, the equation would look like this: 25 x 2 x (0.25 x 1) x 7.48 = 93.5 gallons.

Step 2: Calculate amount of water your basin needs to hold

As a general rule, you will need your basin to hold 2½ times the amount of water in your stream. To find out how much water your basin will need to hold, multiply the gallons of water in your stream by 2.5. In the above example, it would be 93.5 x 2.5 = 233.75 – so your basin would need to hold 233.75 gallons of water.

Step 3: Determine the size basin needed to hold the water

Here’s where things get a little tricky. You’ll likely use boulders, stones and other décor in your design. Well all that rockwork will take up space for water, and so you’ll need to go with a larger vessel.

Try this quick equation that will help you determine what size basin you’ll need with boulders: L x W x D x 2.2 = gallons of water the basin will need to hold. To give you an idea, a 5 foot by 10 foot basin that’s 3 feet deep and contains stone will hold 330 gallons of water.

A space- and cost-saving option is to use a basin matrix in place of some of the boulders. A basin matrix is a strong, 27-by-16-by-17½-inch hollow box that’s perforated with half-inch holes to allow water to collect and pass through. You can stack them together and landscape right over them. Each basin matrix holds 31.5 gallons, adding valuable water volume without increasing the size of the basin. Don’t forget to add a pump vault for easy access to your pump.

Go with a Kit

If you aren’t trying to customize a large waterfall, consider investing in a pond free waterfall kit, like PondBuilder™ Cascading Falls Pondless Kits. They contain all components you’ll need – from underlayment and liner to a waterfall box, pump, basin matrix and plumbing – with predetermined dimensions to help you create your water feature.

Pond Talk: What’s the largest size boulder you’ve installed in your water- or landscape?

Create A Low Maintenance Waterfall - PondBuilder™ Cascading Falls Pondless Kits

What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a waterfall spillway? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a waterfall spillway?

Q: What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a waterfall spillway?

Ashley – Forest Grove, OR

A:  Waterfall filters and waterfall spillways both generate a flowing waterfall in your pond or water feature – but they have different designs and purposes. Here’s what you need to know about including them in your waterscape.


A Waterfall Filter

A waterfall filter, like The Pond Guy® ClearSpring™ Pro Waterfall Filters, serves two purposes: it generates a waterfall, and it houses your biological filtration system. The waterfall filter provides a starting point for the waterfall itself as the water fills its deep basin and pours evenly over the spillway. That basin is also spacious enough to hold filter media, which houses countless beneficial bacteria – a.k.a. your biological filtration system.

These two-in-one units work well for hobbyists who are building a new pond or are in need of additional filtration. Once you install one, be sure to seed the filter media with PL Gel, a bacterial inoculant that contains beneficial microorganisms and naturally occurring biopolymers that reduce filter startup time.

A Waterfall Spillway

A waterfall spillway, like the PondBuilder™ Elite Cascade Spillways, also provides a starting point for an evenly pouring waterfall, but the basin itself is smaller and provides no room for filter media.

But because it creates the environment-enhancing movement and sound of flowing water, a waterfall spillway makes an excellent addition to a pond that’s already filtered. It also works well for pondless waterfalls and in ponds in areas with little room to work.

Customizing Your Flow

Whether you install a waterfall filter or waterfall spillway, they can both be used in conjunction with a skimmer. You can also easily blend them into your landscape with rock covers or aquatic plants while still allowing you to access the unit. Some models even offer a planting shelf or basket to house additional aquatic plants. Check out our entire selection of Waterfall Filters & Waterfall Spillways.

Pond Talk: What type of waterfall does your pond or water feature have?

Create a Waterfall & Filter Your Pond - The Pond Guy® ClearSpring™ Mini Waterfall Filter

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there?

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there?
Peter, Savannah, GA

There are as many reasons to create a water feature, as there are people to create them. Whether you enjoy design and creation, are intrigued by Koi, or just love the sounds and sights of flowing water, there is a water feature available for you. Just as the saying goes for snowflakes, your uniqueness and the plethora of available options ensures that no two water features are alike.

Understanding the options that are available to you is the first step to falling in love with the type of feature that best fits your location and lifestyle. Water features can be as simple as a small fountain or as complex as a multi-level water garden with fish, waterfalls and plants. The three biggest factors that come into play when you choose the type of water feature you would like to install are: 1) how quickly you would like the feature constructed, 2) how much space do you have to accommodate your water feature, 3) how much you are willing to invest to construct your water feature.

Small water features like Aquascape Mini Fountain Kits or container type water features are great for people who are on the go, don’t have much time to invest in construction and pond maintenance but are looking to get their feet wet in the ponding field. These types of water features take up a very small area while providing the sights and sounds of flowing water. Container type water features can be created with any type of water-holding basin and can contain plants, water spitters and even a small fish or two. Creative pond owners have used old wash basins, sealed wood barrels and other materials for their container type feature.

If you have ever walked through the garden center of a DIY home or builder’s supply store you have surely come across those big plastic molds we call preformed ponds. These preformed basins provide the layout of your pond allowing you to simply dig a hole in your yard accordingly and landscape around the installed basin. These types of ponds require a little more homework on your part as you will have to install a filtration system like the All-In-One. These are a great starting point for people who are interested in starting their first in ground pond but aren’t ready to invest in large-scale construction.

For those of you who are looking to upgrade to a bigger pond or would like a more creative design, installing a pond using 45 mil rubber pond liner allows you the freedom to create virtually any size and shape pond you can imagine. Waterfalls and streams can also be created using rubber liner adding even more character to your water feature. Along with designing an entire pond from scratch comes the knowledge required to select and properly locate skimmer boxes, waterfall boxes, rocks and pumps necessary to sustain a balanced pond. Pond Kits are available to save you the time of having to select the proper parts for your project. Your pond will also require natural water treatments to keep it healthy and clean. If you want to enjoy a large scale stream or waterfall but are concerned about pond maintenance or have small kids, consider a pondless waterfall kit which retains pond water underground.

When constructed properly a water feature will blend perfectly into both your lifestyle and your home, allowing you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty these ponds provide, while boosting the value and appeal of your home. Take your time when looking at the different types of water features and choose what’s best for you, it will be well worth your investment.

Pond Talk: Share some of your feature construction experiences and reasons why you love your back yard retreats.

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I'd like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me?

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? Maude – Frogsboro, NC

Water Features That Fit

Creating a water feature is a fun and exciting process consisting of endless designs and limited only by your imagination. Many people think they are have to have a large amount of land to create a great water feature. In reality, a beautiful water feature can be constructed in even the smallest yards or even indoors. Before you start purchasing materials for your pond project, sit down with a pen and paper and take some time to research and design the perfect water feature that fits your situation.

One of the more common ways people ease their way into pond building is by using a preformed pond basin. I am sure most of you have seen them when walking through your local home & garden stores. These plastic liners are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and depths which appeals to customers looking to install a pond in a limited amount of space. These liners are great for people new to ponds as the shape and dimensions are already figured out for you. This does however limit your creative influence on your soon to be pond. It is for this reason that more and more brave newcomers opt to install Rubber EPDM liner instead. Using rubber liner allows you the freedom to create whatever size pond you desire, filled with curves, plant shelves and waterfall streams. The rubber liner is flexible and therefore is not prone to cracking like the harder plastic performed liners. Rubber EPDM liner can also be pieced together using a Seam Kit to accommodate a large array of designs. Pond Kits are packaged with 45Mil EPDM Rubber Liner to create ponds as small as 8’ x 11’ or as large as 21’ x 26’. You can also purchase rubber liner in 5’ increments for smaller or larger applications.

Those of us who enjoy the sounds and sights of flowing water but are not thrilled by the prospects of managing an entire pond, have other means of entertainment. Using a small basin and a pump, you can create a beautiful, streaming waterfall that disappears into a hidden reservoir underground. We call this a pondless waterfall. The great thing about pondless waterfalls is that they can adapt to smaller areas very easily because there is no standing water. For instance, if you don’t have much of a yard and would like to hear the sound of water, a pondless waterfall is for you. There are Pondless Waterfall Kits available that contain all of the parts you need to get started and are available in different sizes.

When planning to build your water feature, plan for a weekend, one preferably without rain of course. Most smaller Pond Kits and Pondless Kit usually need only a weekend to complete and right now is usually the most popular time to build. Just remember it is far easier (and cheaper) to work with your pen and paper in the planning stages than it is once you start building your water feature. Planning ahead helps prevent any unwanted surprises.

POND TALK: What type of water feature do you have?

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

What is a Pondless Waterfall? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Cascading Pondless Waterfall.


Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I really would love to add the sound of water to my backyard but I really don’t have the space for a full fledged water garden. I read a little bit about your pondless waterfall kits. Exactly how do those work? – Abby of California


A: Did you know you could have the sound of water without the pond? Well you can! A Cascading Pondless Waterfall is exactly what it sounds like…a waterfall without the pond.

Illustration of How a Cascading Pondless Waterfall Works.

How a Cascading Pondless Waterfall Works

The way it works is this: A basin is first dug into the ground and the waterfall is sculpted out of the land. The basin and waterfall will be covered with liner and underlayment to hold the water. The basin will hold a vault that contains a pump. Tubing will run from the pump to a waterfall box at the top of the waterfall. A Basin Matrix, rocks and gravel will fill the void in the basin. Once filled with water, the water will travel up from the basin to the waterfall box. The water will then travel back down the waterfall and disappear into the basin.

Benefits of a Cascading Pondless Waterfall

Besides providing the sights and sounds of a natural looking waterfall and stream, a cascading pondless waterfall feature offers many things a pond doesn’t:

Easier to Maintain: Because all of the water is contained in an underground basin, hidden from the sun, green water is never an issue. Also, no filtration (and the cleaning goes along with that) is necessary because there are no fish to care for.

Easier to Install: Since you’re digging a basin (basically a hole in the ground that will be covered with rocks and gravel) instead of a water garden (a well designed hole in the ground) with shelves and detailed stone work), it takes only a fraction of the time to build.

Lower Initial Cost & Lower Energy Cost Potential: Cascading Pondless Waterfalls costs less than a full-fledged water garden. Also most Cascading Pondless Waterfall owners choose to run the waterfall only when they are there to enjoy it, minimizing electrical consumption where with a full fledged water garden, the pump must run constantly for the sake of the fish.

Safer: With no standing water, children can safely play in the stream and waterfall – with adult supervision of course.

If you don’t have a water feature yet but have been thinking about getting one, a Cascading Pondless Waterfall is great way to get your feet wet. With all of these benefits and the low cost to build, you simply can’t beat it.


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