Get Inspired by 10 Tranquil Backyard Water Feature Ideas

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated February 15, 2022
Waterfall across a pond
Photo: The Summery Umbrella

The key to the ultimate backyard oasis is a waterfall

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Imagine late summer evenings on the patio listening to a waterfall’s gentle flow nearby—instant calm. When choosing the perfect waterfall for your yard, consider the amount of space you have, the slope of your yard, and what other features you’re working with, like a pool or patio. Also, remember that location is paramount. Do you want to see your waterfall from the bedroom window? Do you want to treat guests to a magnificent sight when they pull down the driveway?

10 Inspirational Backyard Waterfall Features

1. Waterfall Across the Pond

Waterfall across a pond
Photo: The Summery Umbrella

LZ Cathcart at The Summery Umbrella bought a house with its own heart-shaped pond. But wait, there’s more. That pond also had a little island in it. And that’s where LZ was determined to add a fountain. To install the fountain, LZ and her husband had to traverse the pond—home to water snakes and snapping turtles—in a rowboat. The final product, though, is gorgeous and you can just hear the soothing sounds of water gently falling even in a picture.

2. Waterfall Table

Waterfall table
Photo: California Waterscapes

This unique waterfall table by California Waterscapes takes the style and sophistication of this enviable outdoor living space up several notches.

Some homeowners prefer a tranquil waterfall without a pond. This option can give peace of mind when young kids frequent the space. It also requires much less maintenance than a pond. Most pondless waterfalls will have a basin with two or three inches of water that recirculates to produce a consistent waterfall.

3. A Standalone Waterfall

Standalone waterfall
Photo: Aquaterra Earthscapes

Who says you need a pond to install a waterfall? The team at Aquaterra Earthscapes certainly doesn’t.

Bjorn Holmgren, who has spent 20 years installing and repairing water features, recommends asking your local water feature professional specifics about the components required. Ask what brand the pump is and about warranties.

“A correctly installed waterfall will be a low maintenance oasis, while one installed incorrectly will be nothing but headaches,” Holmgren said. “A beautiful waterfall will require some artistic touches along with the know-how. Keep in mind that these are luxury items and are not cheap when using quality materials. So by having it done correctly the first time you will only have to pay once.”

4. Bring the Tranquility Indoors

Indoor waterfall feature
Photo: Water By Design

A backyard water feature is nice, but you could bring tranquility indoors. Kevin Allen and team at Water By Design started by installing outdoor water features, but then found a way to bring the soothing flow of a waterfall inside. This handsome, framed stacked-stone focal point is actually one part waterfall, one part fireplace. It’s the perfect compromise for the water sign who marries a fire sign.

5. Swimming Pool Waterfall

Swimming pool waterfall
Photo: Aquatic Rock Formations

Why not turn a utilitarian swimming pool pump into a work of art—and a fun splash zone? The team at Aquatic Rock Formations created a multi-level stone waterfall to complete a backyard oasis so good that the only thing that would send a person inside is a Wisconsin winter.

In most cases, the pool and waterfall should be designed as one project to ensure the deck can support the weight of the rock and that there is enough space to accommodate the desired water feature.

6. A Contemporary Blade of Water

Water blade waterfall
Photo: sunyawitphoto / Adobe Stock

Water blades are a modern take on the backyard waterfall. Usually, a box hides the mechanical system. As the water pumps out, it spreads evenly over a blade-like opening, so it falls like a sheet of water.

7. Waterfall Privacy Screen

Waterfall privacy screen
Photo: SINSU1980 / Adobe Stock

Using a waterfall as a privacy screen does double duty. You can drown out the neighbors’ noise with the soothing sound of your water feature (and also block anything unsightly in their yard). Plus, you and your family get some privacy to enjoy your outdoor space.

8. Upcycled Waterfall

Upcycled waterfall
Photo: romanovad / Adobe Stock

Bring new life to your outdoor space and save money by using something you’ve already got–or can pick up really cheap. You can use old watering cans, buckets, or wine bottles. All you need is a pump and a water basin that you can find in a waterfall kit. Then let gravity take it from there.

9. Go Fish!

Waterfall with koi fish
Photo: Elenathewise / Adobe Stock

Give fish a home in your backyard. Koi fish represent strength and accomplishment, but they’re also nice to look at. Koi fish can adapt to their climate, making them a great backyard fish. Of course, maintaining a pond with fish is more work than a pondless waterfall, so make sure you’re up for the challenge if you decide to take on pets.

10. Going Down

Waterfall on a hill
Photo: Isabel / Adobe Stock

If you’ve got the hill for it, take advantage and let the water flow naturally. Plan your design and then place your rocks. Just don’t be in a rush because moving stones is hard work.

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