www.Living Waters Landscaping.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Santa Cruz Landscaping: Pondless Waterfalls

The Pondless Waterfall has been a feature in my landscape installations that increases to gain in  popularity in and around Santa Cruz.

The pondless waterfall is basically a waterfall or fountain without the pond, just as the title suggests. It is a waterfall without the exposed water of a traditional pond we expect to see in this style of landscaping.
It still has the soothing sounds of flowing water and natural feel of a traditional water feature, without the maintenance and complex filtration of a koi pond or ornamental pond and waterfall system.
The pondless waterfall system allows my clients to run the waterfall on a timer, turning it on and off as they wish.
A traditional pond needs constant circulation to keep the water clean and the fish happy.

The installation on this style of landscaping is basically the same as a normal pond and water feature, we excavate the project area, install the liner with a protective geo-textile fabric, then we rock it in.
The difference is in the area where the waterfall drops into the pond. Here we install a 'pondless basin', or an area that looks like a shallow pond with decorative river rock at the bottom. Thankfully we have a great deal of inspiration from the many rivers found in Santa Cruz.

Traditional Pondless Basin:
The traditional pondless basin in built by digging a hole approx. 3 ft deep and filling it with three grades of cobble stones and gravel. Large cobbles first, then smaller cobble stones, and topping it off with a decorative pea-gravel. At the bottom of the basin, there is a pump vault that allows an open space for water to collect and be pumped to the top of the waterfall with a submersible pond pump.

This system works quite well and creates a beautiful, almost maintenance free  water feature. However, if the rocks in the basin get any debris, leaves or soils in them, it can be very difficult to clean. We are talking about almost two feet of small river cobbles and gravel combined with decaying leaves.....this equals a maintenance nightmare!!
You basically have to dig out all the rock and wash it clean before it causes pump failure.

I try to give my landscaping clients water features that are easy to maintain and only require professional maintenance on a seasonal basis.
With that in mind I have turned my eyes to a new system for Pondless Waterfall installation.

Over the past couple years I have began to incorporate a new system for our pondless waterfall installation.

Filtrific has created a wonderful system for ponds and pondless waterfalls. It allows us to install a pondless waterfall without having to worry about debris clogging our pumps and creating maintenance hassles.
Their 'vanishing waterfall' system is taking the water feature to a new level. It is very similar to the traditional pondless feature.
The main difference is that the pond pump is housed in a basin separate from the pondless area.
This allows us to build the pondless basin at a depth of only 9 inches. Decreasing the maintenance greatly.
It has a fabulous 'homeowner friendly' filtration system that can be easily cleaned and maintained, without professional help. It allows us professionals to install a system that we can guarantee will be easy to maintain and give longer life to the submersible pumps that we install.

The best part of this system is the 'vanishing pond'. A traditional pondles waterfall, when it is turned off, will house the total volume of flowing water in the waterfall in the pondless basin. This means that it will fill the basin and leave exposed water until it is turned on again.
This might not sound like a big deal, but exposed, stagnant water grows algae real quick!
The Filtrific system houses the total volume of flowing water in the falls underground, in a contained vault. The water in this vault is not exposed to sunlight and, therefore, does not encourage algae growth.
This also means that, with the FIltrific system, when you turn your pump off, it will leave the pondless area dry. Then, when you turn it on, it creates a small pond for the waterfall to splash into. Hence the name 'vanishing waterfall'.

I will be posting more on this subject in the future. I am committed to installing quality water features, and I am always looking for the best way to do this. To the left and below are some pics of a 'vanishing waterfall' we installed outside of Santa Cruz, Ca recently.


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