Pool Waterfalls & Design Tips

To get the most natural look, it is important that pool waterfalls are located in an area where the existing elevation is higher than your pool.

Can it look good if the land behind the waterfall is level with the pool or even lower?

Yes, but it takes a lot of creativity to pull it off well!

The land to the rear will have to built up with soil and the area planted to look as natural as possible.

You want it to look as if there is a body of water somewhere above it in the distance and this is the natural flow of that water.





Waterfall Heights


The height of the waterfall at the water's edge should be determined by the land behind it. It is very tempting to build a waterfall that is high, but how natural will it look? If the top of the waterfall is similar to the land behind it, the most natural picture will be created.

A swimming pool waterfall can be as low as 6" high. The height is endless, depending on the surroundings. The rock used for the waterfall should be large, at least 18" wide.... the larger the better. If you can bring in boulders that are 2' and larger it will look great.



Award Winning Project


If you are installing a concrete pool and want a waterfall, a wonderful idea is to build up the back wall of the pool, face it with stone, and have the waterfall spill over the large boulder. This creates added drama and excitement due to the height of both the wall and the waterfall.

  • You can see here in this pool waterfall I designed that the back wall of the pool serves as a retaining wall also.


  • It is faced with a beautiful stone that blends well with the boulders of the waterfall.


  • Plants close to the rocks provide interest, color and texture.





Here you can see a video of this inground pool design and waterfall.



Boulders and Rocks


Using large boulders rather than small ones is what you might see in natural waterfalls. The water can fall over a beautiful boulder or it can also fall over a flat rock, where it looks like a sheet of water.

Please also visit my page on waterfall designs, where I give some great tips on how to select and use various types of stone for a natural look. The location of most pools are in the sun. However, if your pool waterfall happens to be in the shade, you will be lucky enough to be able to use moss rocks. These are rocks where moss had naturally grown on them. However, moss likes shade.

Pool waterfalls should have additional rocks or boulders placed creatively in the area to create the look of a natural formation. Often spaces are left between the rocks and plants placed in these spaces. Provide mostly groups of plants rather than singles. Some of the plants should grow over the rocks, like Blue Rug Juniper and Cotoneaster. A pretty flowering tree placed to the side completes the picture!



There are other styles of waterfalls that can be used also.


I came across one online the other day and it was pretty interesting. Believe it or not, the boulders were not real, but molded from actual boulders.

The point is that it was basically a group of boulders. There was an area that was formed out so that the water would run down this indentation right in the boulders.

Now I don't know what these "boulders" looked like in real life. I'm normally a purist, so instinctively I can't imagine how they would compare to real stone. But who knows?

Related Pages
Swimming Pool Pictures
Pool Landscaping
Pool Landscape Lighting
Landscape Boulders





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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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