Creative Waterscapes has been building waterfalls from artificial rock since 1994 under a California general contractor's license # C463913. We take great pride in our work, and our friendly and dependable service. Please take a look at our picture portfolio to the left by clicking on "Pond and Water Pictures".
Waterfall and Pond Construction
When you have settled on a design and have drawn a plan for it, a couple of things to think about concerning construction. Build your pond just like a small swimming pool, with 3/8” rebar installed in a grid pattern 12” O.C. maximum, with no vinyl liner underneath (it’s not necessary in this application because you will waterproof the concrete liner). Contact “Dig Alert” in your area to locate any underground utilities and pipes before you start excavation. Do not forget to do this!
When excavating, create a shallow area inside the pond basin which amounts to a large shelf inside the pond, and build your waterfall here. In this way, the pond can never lose water because it is all contained inside the pond basin, even if the waterfall leaks. After your pond is excavated, dig a trench for the intake pipe (2” minimum diameter), then refill trenches with clean dirt or sand that is free of any rocks to prevent pipe damage over time.
Set a form for the pond edge perfectly level all around the perimeter except in the area of the waterfall. Use a contractor’s transit level, or even better, a laser level, to do the pond edge. This way when the pond is filled up completely, the concrete edges do not show and ground cover and other plants can grow over the pond edges, giving as natural a look as possible.
If there is a waterfall on a hill that is flowing into the pond, then a flat but slightly sloping extension of the pond must be added to the area where the falls will be to catch all of the water and return it to the pond. The edges of this “catch basin” must be raised 6”-8” to keep runoff from getting in and pond water from splashing and running out.
You are ready to set your steel in a grid pattern. Steel may be set as close as 6” o.c. or as much as 12” o.c. Form steel tightly to the ground. Later, install dobies (small blocks of concrete with tie wire protruding out) under the steel grid in enough places to lift it off the ground. When you pour the concrete, the steel will be totally iembedded in it. Use no more than 40 grade 3/8” rebar, because it is strong and very easy to shape and bend for free-form ponds. The finished concrete should be at least 4” thick. Use loop ties and a tying tool, available at masonry suppliers, to tie the rebar together.
When pouring concrete for the pond, if it’s over one cubic yard, get a cement truck and concrete pump to do the job. Otherwise mix it by hand in a wheel barrow or two, or rent a small mixer. After mixing the concrete, lay out the mix as smoothly as possible with a metal or wood float and apply two coats of Foundation Thoroseal. The best concrete mix to use if it works for your climate is a seven sack mix. You may want to consider shotcrete if it’s available in your area. This is pump-mix concrete shot out of a large hose under pressure; considerably more than with a regular concrete pump. The shot-crete allows concrete to be applied to higher vertical surfaces without dropping off. Gunite is certainly another option for applying cement to the pond, and may be necessary where you have large amounts of vertical walls to apply cement to. Concerning the application of the concrete or gunnite: it is probably worth it to go ahead and pay extra and find quality finishers to trowel on the material professionally.
Some people need to know how well the water features hold up in cold weather, and the short answer is to investigate on your own how that issue is handled by masonry, pool, and concrete contractors in your area. Whatever applies to their finished structures is going to apply to these water features that we’re doing. Whatever a home owner must do to winterize their swimming pools in cold climates will have to be duplicated for a waterfall.
Waterfall construction can involve artificial or real rocks and boulders, or a combination of the two. We offer artificial rocks and boulders for sale and instructions on how to install them. If you choose real rocks, try to create as many small rock pools as possible that are laterally offset and stepping down the front and even sides of the falls, and finally into the main pond basin. Try to avoid building a "rock pile", with water shooting out from the top rock. I have seen many waterfalls built this way and they usually look very unappealing.
Create a "starter pool" with smaller rocks or boulders at the top of the falls that overflows into the next small rock basin down from it, and so on. The smaller the waterfall, the fewer cascading basins you will have. Typically the basins are an oval shape and will be somewhat smaller at the top (roughly 1' x 2', or 2' x 3') and increase in size slightly as they descend down the front of the falls.
Swimming Pool Waterfalls; Artificial Rock Waterfalls-----We can help you!
Our company has repaired and re-colored numerous waterfalls over our eleven years in business. Some of these repairs involved time related "wear and tear", especially the color and finished texture of artificial rock waterfalls. Most of our repairs, however, involve fixing what should have been done right in the first place by the customer's original contractor.
Do you have a waterfall that was constructed with gunnite or shotcrete and looks unrealistic or basically like a big pile of concrete that has some gouges or lines carved across it? We can re-texture your waterfall with patterns copied from real rock formations! Our process will make your waterfall waterproof and look much more attractive and natural-looking.
If you have a waterfall that was built for you and has never operated properly, or does not look like what you had in mind when you contracted for it, and your contractor refuses to fix it, CALL US! We will first of all advise you on the best course of action to take, whether it involves hiring us or not. If you do decide to hire us, we are licensed, insured, and guarantee our work! We can provide plenty of references from our past customers.
Swimming Pool Waterfalls
One of the areas some swimming pool owners are running into difficulty is where they have an artificial rock waterfall that is an integral part of their pool. Unfortunately, many of these waterfalls, (probably hundreds or more!) were just plain built incorrectly.
Typically these pool waterfalls were formed with steel rebar, covered with metal lathe, and then a thick coat of gunite (a sand, portland cement, and water mixture shot out of a hose under very high pressure) was applied. The problem with this very common method is that the metal lathe that was tied to the outside of the formed rebar prevents the gunite from encasing the rebar as it should have. In a few years the metal lathe and steel rebar rust away from rain and pool water running over them when the waterfall is running, leaving only the gunite to stand on its own. Usually the gunnite artificial rocks start cracking and falling apart not long afterwards. If any of the artificial rock is underwater below the water level of the pool itself, then forget it! The steel inside them rusts like crazy from being submerged all the time, and then you start seeing big streaks of rust appearing down the side of your pool.
If this sounds like your pool, call us! We can fix the problem and offer a guarantee on our work for as long as you own your home.
Electrical Circuits for Water Features
While you are working on the different phases of the pond, you should be working with the electrical part of the project, too. This should be done by licensed, qualified personnel only. As far as your power source for your project, an existing exterior receptacle is the easiest, most convenient point of attachment. An interior receptacle will also work: simply drill a hole the size of a threaded pipe adapter out the back of the junction box from the inside of the house, through the exterior wall covering, and attach the conduit to the J-box . Even better is taking the circuit from the main panel box of the house. If you need 220 service for the pump, you must have room in the panel for a new breaker and then create an access to the panel for the new circuit.
When you run a circuit out to the site of the water feature from your power source, whether above or below ground, use 3/4” conduit minimum. Make sure the receptacle for the pump ends up within the reach of the pump’s power cord, but still hidden from view, behind the waterfall or plants. To shield the pump’s power cord from rain or sprinklers, install a waterproof cover by Intermatic. Using 3/4” or 1” conduit, and stranded, 12 or 10 gauge wire makes wire pulling much easier, especially when there are numerous turns in the conduit and long runs to pull through. Pull an extra hot wire or two for future lighting or auxiliary circuits while you’re at it; it will make things easier for you. Underground conduit must be schedule 40 PVC plastic pipe installed to the depth specified for your area in the code (usually 18” minimum). Above ground should be galvanized EMT conduit and fittings or per applicable code. If the pump is running continuously, no timer is required; you may want to install a switch only. Otherwise, a basic Intermatic mechanical timer is all you need for the simplest and most reliable operation.
The water feature should be properly grounded for maximum safety. In addition to the normal grounding to the main panel via metal conduit or grounding wire inside plastic conduit, a solid copper wire, # 8 minimum must lead from a clamp on the rebar grid in the concrete pond shell to the exterior ground terminal on the pump itself. Check local codes and confer with your building inspector to confirm this point. All of the previous information on the electrical installations is not meant to replace careful study of, and compliance with your local area’s electrical codes. The information is a general guide pertaining to water features only and is not represented by me as being all-inclusive. I disclaim any responsibility for any problems you might have in this regard.