How to Disguise a Waterfall Spillway

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Mask the spillway or water source at the pinnacle of the artificial waterfall feature.

The sound of cascading water in a garden is soothing, and the sight of a waterfall provides a focal point of intrigue. Man-made waterfalls constructed of concrete, waterproof liners and pumps often have a weir or tank with a spillway at the summit. The PVC weir receives water from the pump via a tube, potentially goes through a filter screen and spills out over a wide chute -- the spillway -- to create the waterfall. A spillway may also be a bare rock or slab of concrete or liner where the pump hose edge releases water.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Paper and pencil
  • Large, flat stepping stone
  • Foliage plants
  • Extra rocks
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Instructions

    • 1

      Measure the size of the waterfall spillway structure's top opening, noting length and width. Also measure the depth of the spillway if the structure's side is visible from the front of the waterfall. Write down these dimensions on paper.

    • 2

      Find a large, flat stepping stone that is larger in length and width than the spillway's top. Use a tape measure and consult your piece of paper to choose a stepping stone. Match the color or texture of this flat stepping stone with the rocks already used in the waterfall feature. Also look for smaller rocks that are of an appropriate size to hide the front of the spillway if needed.

    • 3

      Brush off any clinging cobwebs or soil from the bottom of the selected flat stepping stone. Place it atop the spillway structure to cover it, but still allow water to pour out from the chute to feed the waterfall.

    • 4

      Tuck additional rocks around the base of the spillway structure's front to hide it from view.

    • 5

      Plant foliage plants at the edge of the waterfall in soil so their leaves jut out to partially hide the rocks surrounding the spillway structure. Alternatively, position plants still in containers among rocks to help soften the look of the waterfall and rocks it contains.

    • 6

      Add extra rocks around the plants and the spillway structure to fill in any noticeable gaps or unwanted views.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thoroughly clean any rocks before putting them in any water-exposed area of the waterfall feature. You don't want mud and debris in the waterfall.

  • If the spillway is bare liner or a concrete slab, place two small bricks on top of it and place the stepping stone across the spillway. The water flows under the stepping stone -- which resembles a bridge -- yet hides the liner, concrete or pump hose.

  • Stepping stone rocks, such as blue flagstone or limestone, aren't likely found on site, so plan on going to a garden center or landscape company to buy the appropriate sized stone to place atop the spillway compartment.

  • If there's little soil or room to plant vegetation to help hide the spillway, buy long-stemmed ivy or arching plants. You can move the ivy to strategically hide certain parts of the spillway. An arching, spreading shrub or perennial also can block more of the spillway than a small, upright or compact plant.

  • Spillways usually have a compartment edge or lip that is higher than the chute. A large enough stepping stone will fully cover and extend beyond the spillway compartment. You cannot use a stepping stone if there is no sturdy lip or edge, as the stone will block the water flow.

  • Any rocks used to hide the spillway must not block the flowing water. Avoid positioning rocks so that water backs up and escapes or leaks from the waterfall system. Enough water must drain down to the lower submersed pump so it doesn't overheat an so valves don't become exposed to air.

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References

  • The Practical Rock and Water Garden; Peter Robinson

Resources

  • Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

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