What is a Pondless Waterfall? Pond Free Streams and Water Features for the Garden

Moving water is a delight. Water gardeners who love streams and water features but have only a small space will find that these waterfalls are a good fit in their garden.

What is a Pondless Waterfall?

Looking for a water feature that doesn’t involve a pond? Searching for a cascade of water to move through a small part of the garden? A pond free waterfall is a waterfall that ends in a gravel bed, rather than a pool. A pump circulates the water down the waterfall, into a gravel bed or a waterfall well, and up to the top again.

Why Choose a Pondless Water Feature?

Pondless water features fit in small spaces. They’re ideal for front gardens and urban townhomes. Perhaps there is a tiny corner of the garden that deserves a quiet seat and some moving water. A pondless water feature would fit well there. Of course, these waterfalls don’t need to be small. With enough pond liner, they can actually extend across a wide area of the yard.

If children and the public are going to access a water feature, it’s important to be conscious about safety. These alternatives to a deep pond provide the element of water in a garden or a public space without the safety concerns that a pond can bring.

Ponds are lovely, but they require maintenance to clean the pond, keep pond animals fed and happy, oxygenate the water, and make sure that the pond system stays at the correct pH. A waterfall involves much less maintenance, so it’s a good option for those who don’t have time to manage the seasonal and ongoing care that a pond requires.

Pondless Waterfall Kits

Gardeners who are keen to install a waterfall have a number of options available. Aquascape, Atlantic Water Gardens, Nursery Pro and Savio are among the many companies that sell mini and standard waterfall kits. The size of the water feature depends on the length of the pond liner and the capacity of the pump. Make sure that the pump is strong enough to carry the water to the top!

Placing the Water Feature

While most want a stream or waterfall to be the focal point of the garden, practical issues around installation will also dictate where to place the waterfall. At the end of the water feature, the water sinks into a gravel bed. Under the bed hides a reservoir that collects the water. Choose a spot in the garden that can accommodate a gravel bed and a deep hole for the reservoir.

Choosing Wetland or Marsh Plants for the Pondless Waterfall

While a waterfall is a focal point in the water garden, surrounding the feature with plants makes the water feature look like nature intended it to be there. Wetland, marsh, and stream side plants all love a light spray of water and enjoy having wet roots.

Shrubs and Groundcovers for the Stream Side Garden

To keep the water feature visible, choose shorter groundcover plants to grow directly beside the waterfall. Larger shrubs can sit in the background. Choose shrubs like salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and exotic-looking marsh plants like skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) for a striking background. What groundcovers are suitable for the stream side? Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and false lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) spread across the sides of a stream. Violets of all sorts act as a short but lovely groundcover, and they come in a variety of colors.

Marginal Aquatic Plants Cover the Base of the Waterfall

Use marginal aquatic plants to surround the gravel bed. Many varieties of irises enjoy living in shallow water. Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) has yellow flowers and is a small but sweet plant for a gravel area. Rushes (Juncaceae family) are a good choice for foliage, with evergreen leaves that resemble grass.

Pondless waterfalls are a low maintenance solution for small spaces that ask for water but don’t have the space for a pond. They add movement and sound to the water garden and provide an opportunity to play with the colors and shapes of aquatic plants in the small garden.