Let me introduce you to my pondless waterfall. Avoiding a pond of standing water solves the problem of child safety and water-quality maintenance because the water from the gushing waterfall collects below ground, beneath a covering of rocks and boulders.
Another benefit of a pondless water feature is you lose less water to evaporation. We can leave our waterfall running while we are gone for weeks at a time.
Our pondless waterfall has been gushing forth for five years with very little maintenance. We rake out any debris or large leaves in the spring and add water maybe twice a year during summer droughts.
We had help with the installation from a pond professional. But the idea is so simple that a high school kid could - and has - installed a water feature like this in a weekend. You can order a kit from Lowe's (Item # 394590).
So here's how I draw attention to this very naturalistic water feature:
1. Plant and contain can-do cannas
Fabulous foliage just looks natural around river rock. To get some height and protect the canna tubers from the cold, grow this bold foliage plant in a container. You can then place it right among the pondless water feature rocks. A potted cordyline with red foliage sits near the top of the waterfall.
2. Draw the line with cordyline
Cordylines are grassy, spiky foliage plants with sharp textures - great for contrasting with the rounded rocks of this water feature. Arrange cordylines in a line from low to tall so the eye follows the repetition of the plant material right up to the top of the falling water. Also, cordylines resist slugs and deer - an important point for plants near water.
3. Accent whimsy
Metal salmon leap from the water, and a blue metal egret stands guard over the waterfall. These structures not only hold up after years of splashing water but are artistic reminders not to take any of your designs too seriously. Brooks babble, streams giggle, and a splashing waterfall imitates gales of laughter.
Pondless waterfalls don't take up much room, have little maintenance and are child-safe water features - why not jump in?
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