How to Build a DIY Backyard Waterfall


A backyard is meant to be your personal paradise; a small little slice of private property that you can use to relax and unwind. Nothing says “paradise” more than a waterfall, and we have the step-by-step guide on how you can build a do it yourself waterfall in your backyard. For any DIY backyard design ideas or landscape materials that you will inevitably need, be sure to contact Pioneer Landscape Centers to get the help and support for any outdoor task you may have.

Plan and Research

Before beginning the process of building your backyard waterfall, it is prudent to first consider the aspects that will be implemented into this structure and what you need to start effectively. There are two parts of the structure: the waterfall and a pond or pool that the water falls in to. You will be incorporating a pump into the body of water to help recirculate the water back up to the top of the waterfall. Although waterfalls can be made in all shapes and sizes, it is easier, and usually more fitting, to construct a smaller waterfall that will fit your space and provide the soothing sound of running water. Find or create a slope in your backyard that the waterfall can be built on. Here is a list of the materials you will need before starting the building process:

  • Rocks or stones
  • Pump
  • Liner
  • Tubing
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Hose
  • Mortar
  • Foam sealants

Step 1: Create Outline and Dig the Pond

The first step is to dig a pond that will be used as the lower basin for the water to run in to. Using paint or chalk, outline where the lower pond will be, where the upper pond will be, and the stream route that the water will take from the upper to lower pond. Start digging out these areas, making sure the lower pond sits below the level of the stream.

Step 2: The Lining

Stretch the underlayment and liner to cover all the areas of the upper basin, stream bed, and lower basin that will be in contact with water. Use some of your rocks to hold these liners in place.

Step 3: Inserting the Pump

After getting your submergible pump ready to be used, put it into the bottom of the lower basin. You can then add your rock layers to the pond to cover the pump, and create a rocky finish to the bottom of the pond. Make sure you run the pump hose to the upper basin before continuing.

Step 4: Build Rock Waterfall

Starting from the lower basin and working your way up the stream bed, place larger rocks along the outline and inset of the stream bed to create the waterfall. Be sure to pack the soil underneath the liner to make sure there is no shifting of the rocks, and that everything is held tight. Step back and look as you are working to see if the waterfall is aesthetically pleasing, and if the rock positioning could be improved.

Step 5: Top Basin

Now that the lower basin and stream bed are placed, use spillway rocks at the top of the waterfall. Smaller, flat rocks like slate are perfect for spillway rocks. Just be sure that the top of the waterfall is level so that water travels efficiently from it.

Step 6: Fill in The Gaps

Use mortar, small pebbles, and foam sealants to fill in any gaps and make the rock structure of the waterfall completely stable. If there is any exposed liner poking out, use small rocks and pebbles to fully hide it.

Step 7: Fill It Up

Use the garden hose to spray the upper basin and stream bed to prime it, and then fill the lower basin.

Step 8: Plug It in and Enjoy

You have made it to the end of the process and can plug the pump in. Turn on the pump and make sure that the water is flowing well, and fix any problems in the stone structure if the stream is flowing outside the rock formation. Finally, you can now enjoy your waterfall!

You have now created your own waterfall for your backyard! If you have any questions along the way or need help with your DIY backyard design ideas, contact Pioneer Landscape Centers at (866) 525-4079.