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Waterfall Designs - How to Make Waterfalls Look Natural

Aug 9, 2008
When you look at waterfall designs, there are those that are absolutely beautiful and those that just don't quite make it. So, how do you create a spectacular one?

The key is to make it look as natural looking as possible. Observing those found in nature will allow you to see how those created in home landscapes should look.

Although you will see some water features where the water flows gently over rocks, many have very dramatic waterfall spillways. A waterfall spillway often is created by a large flat rock, which is built up beneath it by smaller round stones. Picture a step with an overhang. The higher up the flat stone is from the level beneath it, the higher the waterfall.

These flat stones might be pieces of bluestone. They also might be thick slabs of fieldstone. There is no reason why you can't mix them as this might occur in our natural environment also. Another aspect of waterfalls in nature is that they generally will have more than one spillway.

The sides of the waterfalls are often made of different sized stones. Larger ones are mixed in with medium, small and even pebble sized rocks.

Plants are usually incorporated into waterfall designs. In the woods, soil deposits in and near the falls would have created pockets for plant seeds to lodge. Plants that are suited to the specific conditions of the area will grow well. If the waterfall is in a damp, shady area, you might find such plants as ferns. If the area happens to be sunny, those plants that like the sun will survive. Plants that are indigenous to the area will be part of the landscape as that is where they grow best.

All of these ideas can be used for various types of waterfalls. One thing that is good to remember is that all waterfall designs look best when it appears that water is tumbling down from a higher elevation. You don't want an unnatural mound sitting there. This is true whether you are creating a waterfall for a swimming pool, pond or stream.

If you are lucky enough to have property that slopes down towards the area you are going to be viewing the waterfall from, you will have the best type of water feature. Sometimes you can tweak your viewpoint to take advantage of this. For example, if your land slopes towards your house, you will be able to see the waterfall clearly from your home. However, if your land slopes towards the rear yard, this is not so. In this case, you might want to add a special sitting area in which you can view the waterfall from.

There are many different stone types and colors. Some are fieldstone, found in the woods. Others come from mines. I mentioned above mixing different kinds of flat stones. Mixing stone types or colors can be done, although the majority should be similar. If you think about mountains and geology, similar stones collect in certain areas. Sizes, however, should definitely be mixed.

These are things that you can mimic when creating your own waterfall. Try to create your waterfall as you might see it in the woods or mountains. It will be more successful this way.
About the Author
Susan Schlenger is a professional Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. You can read more about Waterfall Designs at her website Landscape Design Advice.
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