Exterior Worlds
Waterfall Design
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Waterfall Design

Waterfall design is commonly used to add a very natural look to a landscape. In some situations, it can also be approached from a more abstract perspective to create a unique water feature with a more contemporary look and feel to it.

Location and placement are the keys to success in both endeavors. Adding a waterfall anywhere in the yard requires the design skills of a trained professional landscaper who can build the structure to scale with surrounding elements. Appropriate materials must also be carefully chosen in order to establish the design as either one that takes us back to nature or one that carries us forward into realms of abstract thought.

Waterfalls are never meant to stand alone. They are always of some other landscape feature and contribute movement, vitality, and aesthetic to a larger scene. Examples in the natural landscaping realm include ponds, natural swimming pools, streams, and meditation gardens.

In the contemporary realm, they are often used with great effectiveness in modern garden design, where the fluidity of water and the absolutism of stone contribute movement and form and without the need of vegetation to establish the scene.


When aiming for a natural look in waterfall design, plants are always added to create an authentically natural look. Plants, after all, abound near water in the wild—even in the desert regions of the world. Rocks are also natural in appearance and vary in size from small, mid-size, to large. Some stones are smooth, as though they were worn by erosion over eons of time, while others are irregular, like they were thrust up from the depths of the earth itself.

This type of variety creates a pattern that lacks the uniformity of the strictly manmade, but is nonetheless balanced by laws and principles that create aesthetics throughout the natural world. Altering the amount of stones and plants is the key to determining the degree that the waterfall looks freely organic. If a waterfall design is part of a very formal garden, or if it is part of a very conservative landscape design, scaling down the plants and emphasizing the rocks will prevent the foliage from overpowering the aesthetics of the surrounding property.

In Asian gardens, such as the Japanese garden or the Western derivative of the Zen garden, bamboo is often used as the sole plant material around the falls. Its very presence creates a distinctively Eastern presence that will set the tone for the entire scene.

Perhaps the most popular application of waterfall design is swimming pool construction. Waterfalls are usually built on one side of the pool to create focal points for attention. On the other side of the pool, guests can sit, stand, mingle, and talk while they enjoy the sights and sounds of the falls. Underwater lighting and downlighting fixtures can then illuminated the cascades both from above and from below.

In modern and contemporary swimming pools, or in contemporary gardens, waterfall design can made to appear be very abstract and Mentalist in import simply by using materials other than natural looking stones. Cut polished stones and concrete blocks can be arranged like steps to allow the water to flow downward over a series of level surfaces.

For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston’s fine neighborhoods.