Waterfall4 Building Tips For A Natural Waterfall (Secrets Revealed)

March 6, 2023by Bill Seeds

Building a natural style waterfall can be a daunting task. I’m here to help! I’ve been building naturalistic waterfalls professionally in Oregon for the past 4 years. I have attended dozens of classes, workshops, and builds all around the US training under the best waterfall builders in the world. I’m here to share with you some tips and tricks so that you can build more natural and realistic waterfalls in your yard. Here are more resources from Aquascape . I am currently located in Southern Oregon, specifically just outside of Grants Pass, Oregon.

1. Use Complimentary Size Rocks

Use rocks that make sense for the size of your stream and waterfall. Using too small of rocks means you will have rocks stacked on top of one another, which will make it look contrived and not natural. Use rocks that will compliment the size of the stream and waterfall. Do not stack rock on top of one another. Using varied sizes of rock will also help to give scale. Using only one size will give it the “string of pearls” look. Mix up the sizes of rock and also the sizes of gravel.

2. Frame and Weir Stones

When building a waterfall, as a general rule, use 3 rocks for the actual falls. Two will be “frame” rocks which will frame out the waterfall, and one will be the “weir” stone for which the water will pour over. This gives the illusion that water has worn out the earth and revealed the stones beneath. Many novice builders will use flagstone as the weir stone. This does not look natural and you should not use flagstone.

3. Change The Direction Of The Waterfall

Turning the waterfall rocks a few degrees to the side will change the view of the falls. Instead of having all of the falls pointing directly downstream in a straight line, you should be varying the angles of the falls and moving them out of center. This will give you a much more natural style waterfall. Turning the falls will also give you the chance to change the shape of the stream to a more serpentine shape, like in nature. Water tends to move like a snake, as shown by river maps. Utilizing this shape will give you a more natural looking waterfalls.

4. Grade And Elevation

Use the 1′ for every 10′ rule with creating a berm for the waterfall. Specifically, for every 1′ tall waterfall, you want 10′ of rise horizontally across the berm. There are tricks using boulder wing walls which can cut this down. But for the purpose of keeping it simple, keep your berms to the 1/10 ratio. This will keep your waterfall from looking like a volcano erupting and thus not natural. You might think you want a 4′ tall waterfall, but having a 2′ waterfall with a gradual berm slope will look much better and much more natural.

Watch me build a natural waterfall: Backyard Mountain Spring

Thank you for reading along. There are many more techniques available but this should cover the basics for DIY and novice builders. Follow along because I might put out more of these depending on the reach and interest. If you are interested in having me come out build you a natural pondless waterfall, or update your existing waterfall in Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, Roseburg, or Eugene, Oregon please do not hesitate to CONTACT US NOW.


1103 Wildflower Drive, Merlin, Oregon, 97532
(503) 983-7663