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Old 03-03-2016, 02:07 PM   #1
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Default Pondless waterfall

I'm having a 13' pondless stream/waterfall installed (by a landscaper) next month (depending on ground frost levels going down.) The main purpose is to attract birds so I want it in time for spring migration. I've always had a bird bath out, but I've wanted a more substantial water feature for a long time to really complete my backyard wildlife habitat. Since I don't have any experience with that, I wasn't really sure what would work best. One of the local nature centers I frequent has a nice long pondless waterfall/stream (I think about 20' long). It's very natural looking and blends in well with the native plant garden they have, and that inspired me to get this project started.

Last year I had 650 sq ft of useless lawn cut out in the back yard. At the time I wasn't thinking about a water feature there, just a garden, but it has a slope and so I started thinking seriously about installing one. During migration last fall I put out some ground level bird baths and even without moving water, it attracted many birds. So that showed me this is a good location to offer water. It's out in the open, partial shade, and there are trees close by for cover, and over time the shrubs I planted nearby will provide good cover as well. I'm attaching some photos of what the area used to look like and what it looks like now. Hopefully in a month or so I'll be able to show more photos with the feature installed!

The first photo is what it looked like with all the grass. Second is after the sod was cut, third (looking up the slope) is after I mulched it. And the fourth is some birds enjoying the ground level baths I put out in that area.

The landscaper I'm working with has done quite a bit of work in our yard already, and understands my goal in having a natural looking water feature, and so I know he will do a good job. Anyone else have experience with pondless waterfall feature in their yard?
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Pondless waterfall-grass.jpg   Pondless waterfall-sodcut.jpg   Pondless waterfall-mulched.jpg   Pondless waterfall-bath.jpg  
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Old 03-03-2016, 07:04 PM   #2
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What an exciting project! I'm thrilled for you...you almost make me want to do the same thing...but I think (eventually) joining my small pond to the large one (that I plan to put in this year) with a stream is still the way to go for me.

I will have to wait for my moving water, but you will have yours before too long. I can't wait to see the pictures.

You are fortunate to have someone who understands your goals. Have you seen any similar projects done by your landscaper?

The only suggestion that comes to mind right now is that you compile photos of streams that you like, share them with your landscaper, and try to mimic them--oh, and make it as big as you can (but still appropriate for the space)...from what I've read the biggest regret of pond owners is that they didn't make it bigger...I suspect that would apply to your project as well.

I love the idea!

I look forward to seeing your after photos--along with the birds that come to enjoy and utilize your water feature.

Love the bluebirds by the way. ~smile~
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:09 PM   #3
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Nice sized area. There is just such a waterfalls shallow stream in a bird garden nearby where I love to watch the birds bath. See the coolest birds there. Great idea for a garden.
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Old 03-04-2016, 07:05 AM   #4
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Nice sized area. There is just such a waterfalls shallow stream in a bird garden nearby where I love to watch the birds bath. See the coolest birds there. Great idea for a garden.
Sounds beautiful.

That makes me even more excited about adding my stream which will make many more shallow areas for birds. I doubt I'll finish both a pond and a stream this year, but it can't hurt to try.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
What an exciting project! I'm thrilled for you...you almost make me want to do the same thing...but I think (eventually) joining my small pond to the large one (that I plan to put in this year) with a stream is still the way to go for me.

I will have to wait for my moving water, but you will have yours before too long. I can't wait to see the pictures.

You are fortunate to have someone who understands your goals. Have you seen any similar projects done by your landscaper?

The only suggestion that comes to mind right now is that you compile photos of streams that you like, share them with your landscaper, and try to mimic them--oh, and make it as big as you can (but still appropriate for the space)...from what I've read the biggest regret of pond owners is that they didn't make it bigger...I suspect that would apply to your project as well.

I love the idea!

I look forward to seeing your after photos--along with the birds that come to enjoy and utilize your water feature.

Love the bluebirds by the way. ~smile~
Yes, moving water is a magnet for birds. It will bring in species that don't come to feeders, especially during migration. I've seen various warblers, thrushes, etc come through the yard, but this will bring them out of the trees, more into the open where I can see them better. I plan to get lots of pictures

The landscaper I've been using does a lot with native plantings, not exclusively but that is a big part of his business. He said he did a lot of work with water features in the past, before he started his own business, and he has done a few water features in recent years, though I don't think any pondless waterfalls. This is our third project with him. He did our front yard a few years ago and then last year I had him come out and put in a dry creek bed along the south side of our house where there is a slope that was eroding. I already had planted a garden there several years before. I was very happy with how it turned out.

Here's a photo of the dry creek bed taken a few months after installation. The stream/waterfall in the back will be similar to that, probably a bit curvier because we'll have more room to work with in the back.

Oh, and you're right about the size. Initially his estimate had an 8' length, and I was already thinking that would be too small. I figured exactly like you said, I didn't want to go to all that effort and then wish it was larger, especially because we have the space to work with. The larger option is 13', and he said we could even extend that a little bit. So that's what I'm going with! During installation he said we could play around a bit with the layout to see what looks good.
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
Nice sized area. There is just such a waterfalls shallow stream in a bird garden nearby where I love to watch the birds bath. See the coolest birds there. Great idea for a garden.
Here's a nice video about the dedication of the waterfall garden at the nature center I was talking about, which inspired my project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-nnzfSdS1A
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:24 AM   #7
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Your plans sound great gymell. I love that you are removing lawn. Your photo of the birds is beautiful. I can't wait to see the after pictures. Thanks for sharing
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by gymell View Post
Yes, moving water is a magnet for birds. It will bring in species that don't come to feeders, especially during migration. I've seen various warblers, thrushes, etc come through the yard, but this will bring them out of the trees, more into the open where I can see them better. I plan to get lots of pictures

The landscaper I've been using does a lot with native plantings, not exclusively but that is a big part of his business. He said he did a lot of work with water features in the past, before he started his own business, and he has done a few water features in recent years, though I don't think any pondless waterfalls. This is our third project with him. He did our front yard a few years ago and then last year I had him come out and put in a dry creek bed along the south side of our house where there is a slope that was eroding. I already had planted a garden there several years before. I was very happy with how it turned out.

Here's a photo of the dry creek bed taken a few months after installation. The stream/waterfall in the back will be similar to that, probably a bit curvier because we'll have more room to work with in the back.

Oh, and you're right about the size. Initially his estimate had an 8' length, and I was already thinking that would be too small. I figured exactly like you said, I didn't want to go to all that effort and then wish it was larger, especially because we have the space to work with. The larger option is 13', and he said we could even extend that a little bit. So that's what I'm going with! During installation he said we could play around a bit with the layout to see what looks good.
That sounds great! I think having it longer will help make it look more natural as well. If possible, try hiding the source of the water behind a bend perhaps with a large boulder (and other rocks) to help obscure the view to make it look as though the stream originated elsewhere and is just passing through your yard--hmm...which means perhaps it should appear to continue running behind your yard as well.

I love that you will have a longer expanse (I'm assuming) with various pooling areas for the water....and hopefully varying depths to accommodate both smaller and larger species.

I am so, so excited for you! My suggestions are just that...I hope I don't sound like I'm trying to take over. I'm just imaging how I would do it.

I'm glad you are pleased with his past projects.

Last year, I started putting in a dry creekbed type path as well. My goal is for it to look like it would spill into my small pond (Phase I) which will eventually (litterally) spill into my stream and large pond. I wish I could say that I finished it, but I now have to rework how it attaches to my pond to make it look natural, add more places for puddles, and ensure that rains will spill down the dry creekbed and into my water feature.

I like your idea of attracting birds that don't come to feeders...and drawing them out to where you can see them and photograph them more easily.
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Old 03-04-2016, 12:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
That sounds great! I think having it longer will help make it look more natural as well. If possible, try hiding the source of the water behind a bend perhaps with a large boulder (and other rocks) to help obscure the view to make it look as though the stream originated elsewhere and is just passing through your yard--hmm...which means perhaps it should appear to continue running behind your yard as well.

I love that you will have a longer expanse (I'm assuming) with various pooling areas for the water....and hopefully varying depths to accommodate both smaller and larger species.

I am so, so excited for you! My suggestions are just that...I hope I don't sound like I'm trying to take over. I'm just imaging how I would do it.

I'm glad you are pleased with his past projects.

Last year, I started putting in a dry creekbed type path as well. My goal is for it to look like it would spill into my small pond (Phase I) which will eventually (litterally) spill into my stream and large pond. I wish I could say that I finished it, but I now have to rework how it attaches to my pond to make it look natural, add more places for puddles, and ensure that rains will spill down the dry creekbed and into my water feature.

I like your idea of attracting birds that don't come to feeders...and drawing them out to where you can see them and photograph them more easily.
All suggestions and ideas are welcome. This will be my first experience with a water feature. My landscaper actually had the same idea when we talked last week. He mentioned having the stream start around where I planted some shrubs along the fence, so it looks like it's coming from outside the yard.

My yard list has 89 species on it, I'm hoping to get to 100 with the help of this water feature!
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Old 03-04-2016, 12:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gymell View Post
All suggestions and ideas are welcome. This will be my first experience with a water feature. My landscaper actually had the same idea when we talked last week. He mentioned having the stream start around where I planted some shrubs along the fence, so it looks like it's coming from outside the yard.

My yard list has 89 species on it, I'm hoping to get to 100 with the help of this water feature!
Great minds think alike! ~wink~

I'm glad that, as I typed that, it occurred to me to make it disappear from view at the end as well. I really love things to look natural.

I read about someone else's water feature and recall the advice of adding rocks and boulders beyond just the edge of a pond or stream to tie it in with the rest of the landscape and anchor it. Much more natural looking. I had been doing the same with my attempt at a pond....but, with the ultimate size of the finished project, I think that I may have to bring in more rocks from an outside source and not just depend on those already on our property.

Good luck on upping your species list to over 100. This should do the trick.
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