Pondless waterfalls reduce cost, maintenance

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 11:37 AM

Katie M Ellis

If you’re dreaming of a waterfall, you may be glad to know there is an option that costs less than most and is easier to maintain.

“Most people are doing pondless waterfalls. They are low maintenance. You get the sound but no maintenance. They’re also cheaper than a full-blown waterfall,” said Kody Thompson, owner of KBT Waterfalls in South Weber.

Thompson said a waterfall will increase the value and enjoyment of a home, but a waterfall with a pond also increases maintenance.

Dave Andre, owner of Andrescapes in Layton, said ponds generate algae, bacteria and mosquitoes without proper maintenance.

Thompson agrees, saying, “With a pond, you have to worry about the fish and plants. Just like you mow your lawn every week, you have to take care of the pond once a week.”

On the other hand, a pondless waterfall, Andre says, is automated with one switch and shouldn’t need any maintenance other than replacing the filter about every 15 years.

“There are a lot more (negatives) with a pond. There is more maintenance, and it’s more expensive to create low maintenance,” he said.

And pondless waterfalls provide a lot of the same benefits as traditional waterfalls, Andre said.

“It has a nice sound. It’s real therapeutic. It makes your yard work enjoyable.”

Thompson said only a 10-foot by-10-foot space is required to create a pondless waterfall.

“The water recycles, and you don’t need a water source. There is a holding tank underground,” he said.

The job can take a day and cost as little as $800 for a small waterfall. or could take longer than a month for a job where “the sky is the limit.” Thompson said most waterfall projects cost between $1,300 and $2,800.

“The money-savers are size. I can do it for $800, but I’ve never sold one that small,” Thompson said.

Andre said there are some things you shouldn’t scrimp on. While some do-it-yourselfers may use a sump pump to create a waterfall, Andre said it is imperative to use a quality, stainless steel pump.

“Buyer beware of putting in the wrong kind of pump. Some put pumps in that are not meant for waterfalls, like a sump pump. It’ll burn up quick. We use stainless steel pumps that are meant to be run all the time.

“Our liners are reinforced with fiber glass. As a minimum to get the benefit of low maintenance, you need a stainless steel pump. (The project) will be $3,000 to $3,500 and can go up to $50,000,” he said.

Andre said the underground tank should be a minimum of 200 gallons and can be put under any type of landscaping. He recommends putting some thought into the landscaping that will go around the waterfall, including how it will look and sound in the yard, at night and from inside the home.

Thompson said it creates a nice look and sound to put the patio next to the waterfall.

Andre recommends making the area look as natural as possible and considering options like staircases and areas for sitting around the waterfall.

“There are better areas to put them than to just build up a mound. Make it look natural, not just an artificial island with a waterfall built into it,” he said. “Design it so you hear it inside the house with the windows open, and so it’s a good view from the house, the patio and the street. It’s not just for neighbors to look at. It’s so you can enjoy it. Use a well-thought-out landscape plan around the waterfall to make it look natural, not just a pile of rocks.”

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