Disappearing Pondless Waterfalls – Installation Part 1
In this installation example of the Signature Series Pondless® Waterfalls kit, one additional biological filter unit was used. Typical pondless waterfall kits come with only one filter unit. Additional waterfall units need to be purchased separately.
Step 1 Location, Location, Location! First and foremost, locate and mark out your pondless Waterfalls Basin Area before you do anything.
By using a garden hose you can easily create the desired shape for your basin. It is important that you make sure your basin design does not exceed the amount of liner that you have in your pondless waterfalls kit. Be sure to position the “pondless waterfalls unit” so that it faces your house, bedroom, gazebo, barbeque or whatever destination spot that is most important to you for maximum viewing pleasure.
Once you have made a decision on the shape for your basin, use a can of orange upside down construction spray paint and outline the shape (around the hose) on the grass or dirt.
Step 2 Place Biological Waterfall filter unit into Perfect Position
The position the pondless waterfalls filter unit can seriously make or break you feature, so be sure it’s facing your main viewing area. If possible, we recommend placing the origin of the Waterfall six or eight feet from the basin, to create a short stream to meander between your “waterfall” and your pondless basin.
Step 3 Lay Out Your Plumbing Before Digging
Save time and money by eliminating the need to dig a trench! Simply lay out the PVC flex pipe along your stream ant the edge of your basin, before excavation. Should you decide to trench for the plumbing, dig the trench deep enough to cover the pipe with a few inches of soil, to benefit your plantings. In a perfect world the PVC flex pipe should be on a slight decline from the pondless waterfall filter unit to the pondless waterfall basin for ease of annual cleaning.
Step 4 Plumb and Level the waterfall filter unit & installing the bulkhead:
First off, before leveling the waterfall unit, install the two bulkheads into the back of the filter. This unit is predrilled with two openings on the back allowing you several plumbing options
1. For single pump installation, glue your PVC flex pipe to one of the bulkhead fittings, and simply cap the other bulkhead (fitting included in Pondless® Waterfall kit). 2. For two pump installation, attach both PVC flex pipes, one to each bulkhead.
Drain Kit option- A drain kit can be attached to the second bulkhead fitting on single pump installation applications. The drain kit allows you the ability to perform water changes more easily and makes your annual cleaning of the waterfall filter much easier.
Install the bulkhead fittings in the predrilled holes provided in the back of the Waterfall filter. The rubber washer should be located on the inside of the Waterfall unit and the plastic washer on the outside. First, hand tighten the nut on the outside and then finish with a large pair of channel lock pliers until the rubber washer begins to bulge. This should only be approximately one full turn past hand tight. Beware of over tightening the nut, which could possibly crack the bulkhead. Note that the bulkhead fitting is reverse threaded. So, righty tighty, lefty loosey doesn’t apply here. In other words, turn the nut counterclockwise to tighten it.
You can install the PVC MPT (Male Pipe Thread) to slip fitting into the desired bulkhead to receive the pump plumbing. The PVC plug fitting is provided and can be installed in the second bulkhead fitting if it is not going to be utilized. We recommend using some of the silicone sealant included in pondless waterfall kits or Teflon tape (not included) to coat the threads of the fittings, in order to provide a watertight seal. SKIPPING THIS STEP, IS A COMMON DO-IT-YOURSELFER MISTAKE
Once this is complete, it’s time to position the waterfall unit in the desired location.
We recommend setting the waterfall filter unit at or slightly below the grade of the yard. Remove a section of sod if needed or just a few inches of soil in order to create a firm foundation for the Waterfalls filter unit to live. DESIGNER TIP- “Don’t build volcano waterfalls, keep the waterfall to the scale of the yard. Your goal should be to create the illusion that Mother Nature herself has installed it. Avoid creating a volcanic look by trying to raise the waterfall up four or five high in a perfectly flat backyard.“
The area beneath the waterfall filter unit must be compacted thoroughly by using a hand tamper. This will help prevent the pondless filter box from possibly settling in the future.
Use a two-foot bubble level in order to make sure your waterfall unit is properly set into position. It is important that your waterfall filter unit be level from side to side and tilted forward at ¼ of a bubble on a 2′ level. This will ensure the water comes over the front of the Waterfall unit and covers the entire spillway. Glue the Flexible PVC Pipe:
Now the filter is ready for the flexible PVC to be primered and glued into place using the PVC cement you will find in your pondless waterfall kit, specified for use with flexible piping.
Prime both the inside of the PVC fitting and the outside of the pipe where the flexible PVC cement will be applied.
After priming is complete, apply the specific PVC cement to the fitting and the PVC pipe and fit the two pieces together, turning slightly as you push them together.
It is recommended that you hold the pipe into the fitting for at least 60 seconds to allow the glue to slightly set. Wait approximately 10-15 minutes to let the glue completely set before you begin to backfill the waterfall filter with soil and bury the connection.
Before backfilling around the waterfall filter, you should install the support racks. Otherwise, you may not be able to get it in place before you get out of control with the tamper and tweak the unit.
It is also recommend that someone stand inside the pondless filter box to keep it level and in place and while it’s being backfilled and tamped.
The excavated soil from the basin can be backfilled around the sides and back of the Waterfall filter. Tamp the soil during backfilling in order to reduce settling. Any additional soil can be spread around the far side of the pondless feature in order to create a planting bed for perennials and annuals.
Take the extra time to double check and make sure the waterfall filter unit is still level after installing the plumbing.
Step 5 Begin Excavating Your Basin (Design Shape and Depth)
This is one of the more labor-intense tasks, so pace yourself and get some friends and family to help you.
We don’t suggest excavating the waterfall basin more than 24′ deep. At this depth it will provide the proper water volume in the basin to operate your disappearing pondless waterfall and a short meandering stream
All of the soil removed from the excavation should be spread and compacted around the Waterfall filter. The pondless® filter box should be completely surrounded by soil by the end of the excavation.
While excavating, it is important to make sure that all of the edges around the waterfall basin are level. This will help you to avoid any unexpected low edges. There are several different tools methods that you can use to level, depending on the resources that are available to you. The most accurate method is a transit, either sight or laser. Take several readings around the perimeter of your basin. Transits can be rented or bought, however, may not be the most practical option for a one-time installation. The two other commonly used options that utilize household items and may be more convenient.
One, you can take a standard straight 2″x4 board and lay it across the basin with the two foot level you used to set your Waterfall filter unit on the center. The level will prove if the two sides are even, and all the edges can be measured in the same way, by altering the angle of the board across the basin. The second household method that can be used is a line level. A line level is basically a small bubble level that can be attached to the end of a string. The other end of the string should then attached to a stake that is placed at any point around the perimeter of your basin. The level can then be walked around the edges of the basin and readings are taken at several different locations to ensure the sides are even. Remember, that your basin does not have to be perfectly level, but general readings should be taken to avoid any major mistakes.
Step 6 Install the Underlayment and EPDM Liner
Once your excavation is complete remove any sharp objects from the hole that could possibly damage the liner.
Then unfold the Geo-textile Underlayment fabric and place it into your excavated basin. Start at the bottom of the basin and remove the slack from the Underlayment; making sure it conforms to your basin.
Now it is time to install the EPDM liner on top of the Underlayment.
This installation process is the same as the Underlayment, remember to start at the bottom and contour the liner up and out of the basin.
Try to remove the large fold, but the main goal is to make sure that it’s lying flat and going into all corners. It is not necessary to get it perfect – you will be hiding the liner with rocks and gravel soon.
Be sure the liner is high enough around the edges of the waterfall basin. This won’t be a problem provided you “measured out the Basin and excavated it correctly”. Problem edges can be fixed easily by readjusting the liner into the excavation, and backfilling (making the basin smaller) in areas where there is not enough liner, or by simply buying a larger liner.
Step 7 Setting the pondless waterfalls pump chamber
Once the underlayment and liner is in place, Position the pondless waterfalls pump chamber into the proper spot at the bottom of the waterfall basin, of course on top of the liner.
Step 8 Install Rock and Gravel Rocking in the disappearing pondless waterfall
We use 2 to 3 size of ugly gravel to fill the basin up to within a few inches from the top. A finishing layer of decorative gravel should be added to the top few inches.
Now set larger boulders (6″-18″) around the perimeter of the basin to support the edges of the “pondless waterfall” basin. The PVC flexible plumbing from the filter should be brought over a slightly lowered edge of the liner and to the location of the pondless waterfalls pump chamber. Accent boulders and gravel will be used to hide the plumbing.
Step 9 Rinsing the Rocks and Gravel
With a garden hose, rinse the rocks and gravel
Place an auxiliary clean-out pump or use the pump purchased with the pondless waterfall kit in the bottom of the pump chamber. Use discharge hose or an extra section of PVC Flex pipe to pump the muddy water out of the pondless waterfall basin. This step helps the water feature clear up faster.
Step 10 Hook up the Pump and Plumbing
The flexible PVC pipe from the pondless Filter can be cut to the proper length and inserted through the precut slot on the side of the pondless pump chamber. Be sure to prime and glue the end of the PVC flex pipe and fitting on the end of the check valve assembly. While gluing, remember to hold the pipe into the fitting for at least 60 seconds to allow the glue to set up. The cord from your submersible pond pump can be buried just beneath the stone and gravel and run over to the electrical outlet.