How To Install A Water Feature


Happy December from Desert Rose! It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of the year, but our snowy weather is reminding us that we are getting close to the start of Winter. In this month’s blog, we are going to review the installation of a water feature. Water features are a very unique addition to any yard since it is not only visually engaging but also audibly appealing as well. The sound of water breaking over rocks will bring the atmosphere of a river to your backyard and can create a calming environment. Water features are not only nice for us humans, but they also provide a freshwater source for all kinds of birds. Installing a water feature can be tricky though, which is why it is important to be aware of several critical steps prior to performing the installation. In this blog, we will go over the basics of installing a water feature to help you decide if a water feature is right for your yard.

The first step is to decide what type of water feature would be the best fit for your yard. There are many different options including ceramic, plastic, natural rock, metal, and cement water features. At Desert Rose, we enjoy using a natural rock for water features since it incorporates more of nature into your backyard, but which one you choose is completely up to you! Once you select the water feature you want, it's time to decide on the location. Ultimately, the location depends on what you are trying to accomplish; whether you want it to be the main focal point of your yard, or to be outside your bedroom window so you can hear it as you fall asleep, the purpose of the water feature will determine where it is placed.


Be sure to keep in mind that no matter the location, there will need to be a nearby electrical source to power the water pump. If there is no one nearby, a licensed electrician will need to install one. Once the location is chosen it is time to assemble the supplies and lay out the footprint of the installation. A water feature needs a basin or something to act as a reservoir. This can be accomplished by either purchasing a pond shell (high-density plastic) or digging a hole and lining it with a pond liner. If using a pond shell; simply dig out an area the size of the shell and place it in the ground slightly above ground level. Always double-check that the shell is level, as once you have the reservoir in place it takes a lot of work to reposition it. If you would rather go with a hole reservoir it's time to start digging - remember that the deeper the hole the less often you will have to refill the pond. Once the hole is dug it needs to be waterproofed with a pond liner. Place the pond liner in the hole, being careful not to puncture it. Have the liner extend about 12-18" around the perimeter of the hole at ground level. Once this step is complete it is time to make the base for the water feature.


Most water features are fairly heavy and need 3 or more people to carry them (some have to be put in place by a crane). In order to hold this weight, a custom heavy-duty frame needs to be made for each water feature. The frame is made out of pressure treated timber, thick metal braces, and a heavy-duty metal mesh. Once the frame is installed over the pond liner (or pond shell) and leveled, it is time to make a couple of cuts in the heavy-duty mesh. A hole needs to be cut for the water pump tube (usually in the middle) and an access point (toward one of the corners). The access point will allow for easy service of the pond, (draining, swapping filters or pumps, etc.). The mesh is very thick, so it does need to be cut by a grinder with a metal cutting blade. Once this is complete a thin mesh screen is placed over the heady duty mesh to prevent debris from getting into the pond. After the screen is down (and a hole is cut for the tube and access point) it is time to attach the pump to the water feature and install the feature.


The water feature needs to be installed, leveled, and then adjusted to provide the type of flow that is the most visually pleasing. Shims are often placed to help the water flow properly over the water feature. Once this is complete it is time to cover the mesh with river rock or other decorative rock to hide the mesh. At this point, all that is left is to sit back, relax, and enjoy your new water feature! The water feature will need to be refilled every so often (due to evaporation) so be sure to keep an eye on the water level!

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