build a fish pond

You are here: Home > Build A Koi Pond > Waterfalls

Garden Waterfall and Backyard Waterfalls

By building a waterfall in your pond not only does it create a better environment for your fish but the therapeutic benefits for you are amazing. The soothing sounds of your garden waterfall will bring you back to nature. You will be able to open your window and hear the sounds of the water rushing over the rocks. It will remind you of a time from your youth whether fishing with your dad or your family trip to the beach it will lure into a relaxing state of mind for your whole day.

garden ponds with waterfall

One benefit of having a waterfall is they increase water molecules and bring more oxygen to the pond water, creating an ideal habitat for Japanese Koi fish. Stepped falls have more surface area and turbulence than straight falls. This increases the air and water interaction that allows oxygen to be dissolved. Creating a natural oxygenators for your pond.

Stepped rocks at the bottom of the waterfall generate more current which also leads to more oxygen exchange. The more surface area and surface turbulence the waterfall has, the more the oxygen in the air can interact with the water.

One thing you will need to watch out for are your freshwater plants. Some of the freshwater plants don’t do well with rapidly moving water and only certain species can live right near the waterfall. Move these plants a few feet away from, or try these other suggestions when building your waterfall.

Another way to avoid this, is not to build it to high. It is best to have your waterfall drop into a small pool before entering your Pond and then spill over into the main pond as to avoid agitating the water in the main pond too much.

You can establish several levels in the waterfall as to make it more interesting. If you make each level a little wider, you will create an effect that makes it appear to be larger.

Waterfalls for Algae Control

Increasing oxygen through water aeration has several advantages, moving water discourages algae growth and dead spots that don't go through the pond filtration system. It is extremely important to add oxygen to your pond, if your oxygen levels go down your filtration will go down. A waterfall will help oxygen to diffuse throughout the pond.

Waterfall Pumps

If you want a really large and magnificent waterfall, your water pump may not be able to supply enough flow. In this case, buy a separate pump for the waterfall or stream. Select your desired flow rate and the head required for your waterfall. Remember that if you wing it and just pick a pump based on flow rate, you may end up with a pump that will cost too much money to run, or it may not even pump the water up to the top of the waterfall.

garden ponds with waterfall


A rule of thumb for deciding how much flow you want for your waterfall is to use from 50 to 100 gallons per hour for every one inch of waterfall. A flow rate in this range will give a lip of water that is up to half-inch high. Therefore, if you want your waterfall to be eight inches wide, you will want a flow of 400 to 800 gallons per hour for your pump.

The half-inch high refers to the height of the water right at the tip of the Backyard waterfall before it drops over the edge. That does not mean the water falls half an inch. In fact, once you pump the water over the edge, it does not take any extra energy to make it fall-gravity does that for you. So your water can fall as much as you like. The half-inch buildup at the lip of the falls gives it enough energy to fall away from the edge and not just dribble over.

Next you need to estimate the head loss to the waterfall, which is the height from the pump to the waterfall and a little more for the tubing. Add half a foot for the tubing. If the tubing is very long or has lots of bends, you may need to do a more involved calculation.


Waterfalls need rocks. If you have rocks in your yard, here is a good place to use them. However, you will probably have to buy rocks for your project.

When selecting that special stone for the lip of the waterfall, think about what you would like the falls to look like. A flat stone will create a solid sheet of water falling over the edge. If you use many boulders, you will have a rapids effect. Also have some small stones and gravel on hand to fill in the entire Garden waterfall; small stones and gravel are great filler in a waterway.

When you select any rocks for your pond, be sure to select ones that have a low limestone content. Granite, slate, and shale are all interesting choices and do not have much limestone. When in doubt, do the soak test. Soak your rocks in a bucket for a few days and test the pH of the water. If it measures over 8.0 on the pH scale, you probably should not use that rock. Be sure to measure the starting pH for reference. That way, you will know the pH value of your tap water and can then compare the two values to each other.


Have you done the calculations you need to make sure that your pump will be sending enough water to the fall, but what about the plumbing? Every inch of pipe you need adds to the head loss in the total system. Remember that smaller diameter pipe has higher head losses. Ther first thing you need to do is choose the correct diameter piping. If the waterfalls are large, pay for larger piping, as this will make your life easier later on.

Think carefully about where you put the plumbing. The appropriate place would be where you can get to it later without having to take your waterfall apart.

pics of garden ponds with waterfall


If you are building a small waterfall you can use a submerged pump and tubing to deliver the water to the top of the waterfall. You can use a small plastic pan to make a small pool at the top. If the water just sprayes out of the pipe, the flow down the rocks would be less satisfying than when the pan is used. The pan has a nice lip to spread the water out and make a nice flow down the rocks.

You can place the tubing for smaller waterfalls underneath the rocks, preferably to the side. The tubing should be covered with the same rocks used to make the waterfall. In this case, all you need to do is move a few rocks to get to the piping, and the tubing is concealed from view.

A larger waterfall will require a larger pump and therfore larger diameter tubing. The larger the diameter of the tubing, the easier it is to kink. Look for kink-free tubing from a pond supply store. You should be able to find it up to a two-inch diameter. The larger the installation, the more care you should take when installing your plumbing. You will not want to disassemble your waterfall due to poor construction from a rushed job. Place the tubing in a location where you can get to it if needed and make sure you take your time. Tip: Measure twice then cut.

You should use a T-connection for large waterfalls, giving you more control over the flow rate. Use the T to divert water back to the main pond. If you split the stream, how can you make sure you get the amount of water you want going to the waterfall? Think about the head loss in pipes. If the pipes were the same size you will probably get more flow going right back to the pond than going to the waterfall. You can customize this design very easily by adding a valve to the outlet of the pipe where it goes back to the pond. Closing the valve will send more water to the fall.

Money Saving Hardware Alternatives

Your Pump is going to be the most important piece of waterfall hardware and probably the most expensive. Make sure your pump will provide the flow rate you need to the desired height. Pump selection will also affect the cost in operating your waterfall because some pumps are more energy efficient than others. Do Not use a sump pump meant for pumping out a basement! They will not last long enough and they use too much electricity.

The best material for Tubing is the kink-free tubing. The larger the tubing diameter, the more expensive it is. You can also use rigid PVC pipe that can be purchased at home improvement stores. You will need to "hard" pipe bends by using different fittings. This will lead to more head loss than tubing, but rigid PVC pipe is much less expensive.

Drains for your pond is an essential item and one many pond builders leave out. You will find it so much easier to clean up your pond if you can just drain out the debris. That means you need a drain wherever debris will collect. The bottom of the pond, filters, and basins are all good places to have drains. The best drain to use is one with a good sized opening, at least an inch and a half. To clean up, open your drains and the debris will flow away. This is a great thing when you want to perform a water change while removing excessive detritus buildup.

If you are installing a liner based waterfall you will have many choices of Liner Material, but EPDM rubber is by for the most resilient and long lasting material. Even if your pond liner is not EPDM, you should consider investing in EPDM for the waterfall liner. The liner is the base material for your waterfall so if it leaks, you will have to dismantle the entire waterfall. A good quality liner can last over 20 years.

I Love SBI!

Fill out the form below and you will immediately receive a free 10 page ebook about your Water Quality



Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.

We hate spam as much as you do! Your name and email address will NEVER be sold, shared, or disclosed.

PLUS: * Koi Times Ezine--A free subscription to our newsletter which is filled with Koi, Pond, and Plant Tips, periodically delivered directly to your email in box.

You are here: Home > Build A Koi Pond > Waterfalls

I hope you are enjoying these articles, I am adding more continuously check back often so you won't miss anything. You can always sign up for the exclusive Email Course where you can have more free information sent straight to your inbox. We here at Koi Pond Guide value your privacy we will not share your email with anyone.

If you would like to see more Koi Fish Pictures Click on the link for the Koi Gallery. Click Here for the Butterfly Koi Gallery.

Thanks and Happy Ponding

Enjoy This Site?
Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

RSS Feeds

Twitter Button

Contact Us

PayPal Acceptance Mark

Return to top
Copyright© 2008-2020.Koi-Pond-Guide.com