How to Build a Small Waterfall with Rocks: A Step-by-Step Guide

There’s something undeniably calming and mesmerizing about the sight and sound of a waterfall. It has the power to transform an ordinary backyard into an oasis of tranquility. If you’ve always wanted a waterfall in your garden but thought it would be too complicated or expensive, think again! In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of building a small waterfall with rocks – an inexpensive and relatively easy DIY project that can make a big impact on your outdoor space.

Materials You’ll Need

Before we dive into the step-by-step guide, let’s go over the materials you’ll need for this project:

  • Pond liner or pre-formed pond
  • Submersible water pump (make sure it’s powerful enough to push water to the desired height of your waterfall)
  • Flexible tubing (sized appropriately for your pump)
  • Assortment of rocks, stones, and pebbles
  • Sand or gravel (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Landscape fabric (optional)

Now that we have our materials sorted out, let’s get started!

Step 1: Plan Your Design

First things first – decide where you want to place your small waterfall. The best location is usually near an existing water feature like a pond or stream. If you don’t have one yet, consider creating one as part of this project. Remember that your chosen spot should have easy access to electricity since you’ll need it for the pump.

Sketch out a rough design on paper before starting any excavation work. This will help ensure that everything fits together nicely once construction begins.

Step 2: Prepare the Site

Once you’ve settled on a location and design for your waterfall, start by digging out any grass or other vegetation from the area where it will be built. Make sure to dig deep enough to accommodate the pond liner or pre-formed pond. If you’re creating a waterfall without an existing water feature, dig out a shallow basin to collect the water at the bottom of the falls.

Use your shovel and level to create a stable base for your waterfall structure, ensuring that it’s as level as possible. If needed, add sand or gravel to help with leveling.

Step 3: Install the Pond Liner

If you’re using a pre-formed pond, simply place it in the excavated area and ensure it sits level. For those opting for a pond liner, first lay down some landscape fabric (optional) in the excavated area to protect the liner from sharp rocks and roots. Then drape the pond liner over the hole, making sure there’s plenty of overlap on all sides.

Fill your new pond or basin with water up until about halfway before trimming off any excess liner material around its perimeter. Leave several inches of extra material beyond where you’ll be placing rocks – this will provide added protection against leaks later on.

Step 4: Set Up Your Water Pump

Now it’s time to install your submersible pump! Make sure it’s positioned at one end of your pond or basin so that it can easily push water up towards where you want your waterfall to start. Attach flexible tubing onto both ends of your pump – one will go into higher levels which create cascading effect & other end should remain submerged in water.

Before moving on, test out how well everything is working by plugging in your pump and letting water flow through tubing connected inside upper levels created by rocks placed around base. Adjust placement if necessary based on desired flow rate & appearance while keeping tubing hidden from view behind stones/rocks as much as possible.

Step 5: Build Your Rock Structure

This is where things really start taking shape! Begin arranging rocks along edges of your pond/basin, gradually working your way up in size as you move towards where the waterfall will start. Be sure to overlap rocks slightly to create a more natural look, and don’t forget about those nooks and crannies – they can provide excellent hiding spots for your tubing.

As you build up your rock structure, periodically use your level to ensure everything remains stable and even. The last thing you want is a wobbly waterfall!

Step 6: Create Your Cascading Water Effect

Now that your rock structure is in place, it’s time to position the tubing so that water flows over the rocks in a cascading effect. You may need to experiment with different placements of tubing and rocks until you achieve desired water flow & visual appearance.

Secure tubing in place using smaller stones or pebbles around its base if needed, but be careful not let any sharp edges come into contact with tubing material itself (this could lead to leaks).

It’s also possible to split your main tube using tee fittings or valves if you want multiple streams of water cascading down from different points along top edge of waterfall structure.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

With all essential components now in place, it’s time for those finishing touches! Fill any gaps between larger rocks with smaller stones/pebbles & make adjustments as necessary based on desired visual appeal & functionality (e.g., ensuring proper water flow). If desired, add aquatic plants either directly inside pond/basin or within crevices between rocks themselves – these can help disguise any remaining visible parts of tubing while also providing additional filtration benefits through their roots system.

Lastly but importantly – enjoy results of hard work by taking some time out relax next newly created backyard oasis!


Building a small waterfall with rocks is a fun and rewarding DIY project that adds value and beauty to any outdoor space. With a little bit of planning, the right materials, and some elbow grease, you’ll have your own personal oasis in no time. So why not give it a try? Your garden will thank you, and so will your mind as you sit back and enjoy the soothing sounds of your very own waterfall.