One of the most powerful elements you can add to your landscaping is a water feature. Ponds with waterfalls bring a multi-sensory experience to your outdoor space by creating reflections, movement, and sound. They are an ideal solution for smaller properties that don’t have room for a pool. Water is therapeutic for everyone and can bring nature closer to those confined at home, like the elderly or infirm. A pond can become the focal point of a yard or outdoor room, regardless of size.

In planning a pond with a waterfall or water feature, consider:

  1. Location: Choose a spot that will be a nearby focal point and is convenient to access. Also, think about what’s underneath, as in soil.
  2. Materials: Liner materials, along with surrounding natural and artificial features. 
  3. Size: Visit botanical gardens and water garden dealers for ideas. Think about the shape and setting, relation to plants, and scale within your yard.
  4. Style: Design a pond that complements the architectural style of your home and reflects your region’s landscape. Formal or informal? Possibilities include Japanese garden ponds, wildlife or naturalistic ponds, modern, and old-fashioned or cottage-style.
  5. Pump system: This recirculates the water for your fall, fountain, or stream. Make sure you select one large and powerful enough to operate a waterfall or feature.
  6. Landscaping: In addition to the surrounding landscape, a pond opens up the opportunity to explore plants that are suitable for a water garden. Depending your design, choices might include tropical water lilies, papyrus, ferns, and hostas.
  7. Hardscape and ornaments: Ideally, your choice of hardscape will make your pond blend into the landscape rather than look as if it mistakenly plopped into your yard. Edging and surrounding hardscape might be ceramic tile, concrete, or stones. Ornaments include objects like bridges or statuary like frogs kissing under umbrellas or spitting fish.
  8. Lighting: Waterproof LED fixtures allow you to gaze at your pond after hours and extend your viewing pleasure. Spotlights might emphasize the waterfall, a graceful ornamental grass, or a whimsical statue. Let an aquatic electrician handle the job. 
  9. Fish and other pond animals: Koi add a vibrant touch of orange, black, and white as they swim in a pond. Be aware that some birds of prey—like herons, owls, and eagles—can swoop down and grab a koi in seconds. To deter birds and wildlife, ponds can be designed with deeper areas (2 feet or more) in the center and vertical edges with a minimum depth of 15 inches. Netting can also be used. Experienced pond owners and designers recommend building an arbor or archway over a pond so that birds can’t see what’s in the pond when they fly overhead.
  10. Safety: Children can drown in just a few inches of water. Consider the ages and accessibility of your children or any who might visit your yard and consider an enclosure.
  11. Local codes: Like many outdoor projects, check with your local planning department to make sure you comply with building codes. These can vary from maximum pond depths to fencing.

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