Landscape & Natural Waterfalls – A Professional Admirer’s View

Inasmuch as we specailize in water features of all types, I will make some general comments here, then break them down into categories in future posts. But first, let’s take a stroll and see what it is about waterfalls that so catches our fancy:

(these are made to view enlarged – left click to do so, maybe even twice, for more detail)


Nature gives us these incredible sights which focus the senses, get us wet and still just fill us up with wonder.


We see Chaos and Order at once in the most raw natural waterfalls, as if Nature Herself made a miscalculation and She wants to remind us of the sheer destructive and awesome power of water itself. The sheer volume of noise alone makes you need to shout to be heard and silences even the busiest mouth (Quite a handy Nature Trip for some who will remain nameless 😉 ):


We look over the top of these – at our most curious – and we see why they exist and how unassuming they seem, wandering their way to such a ‘falling’ pass – then becoming something else entirely besides “just some swollen creek”.


Getting closer quiets the mind and reveals more – and we love it, wanting that at “our place!”


This one could be rough to imitate, in the end. This one you can walk under – (It’s Silver Falls in Oregon.)


There is truly nothing like the sound and motion of water in a landscape. Absolutely nothing outside of earthquakes and volcanos. Nature makes a scene with all those rushing and deafening roars or even its smaller lush and strangely full-throated gurgling sounds. Those of brooks or even the larger cascading monsters are all possible to reenact in a landscape, right out one’s own door. Well – that is, to a degree. In terms of sizes, we can manually construct some wild stuff, especially these days with the advent of all the tricky machinery at hand not only used for the construction itself but also for the amazingly efficient and long-lasting pumps we can produce to motor that water over an edge.  Here is a diesel-powered waterfall I once worked on:

Crystal Springs March 3 09 271-1200

And here is a City Scape – (same theme, water, water, water and lots of it, running fast!) – this is Ira Keller Falls in Portland, Oregon, with a skinny-dipping bloke, waiting for his opportunity. I can’t take this guy anywhere, I swear:

Steve and Jody 009

But, frankly, the chances are great we will end up settling for less at home. This, of course, is just a guess 😉

More manageable, not quite so deafening, we opt for the same wonder, just on a different scale. Yes, we do Formal as well as Natural:



More natural:


The process is actually rather simple, in a way, with some decided conundrums, but many folks have done their own water features and of course landscapes quite admirably and successfully. Indeed, for those who are inclined, some of the very best water features I have ever seen are those of “puttering” homeowners.
Like all landscaping projects, constructing a waterfall system, no matter of what ilk, whether formal or natural, requires intensive labor. Excavations are required, rocks and liners placed, cement work, electrical puzzles need fixing as well as the many and varied engineering problems which have to be borne in mind, including settling of soils after excavation and the new weight of water itself.
Professionals who specialize in such constructions know most of these various items to watchful of.  Splash loss, for example, the subsequent water replacement, their times and duration. Indeed, even the replacement system iself, are huge issues unless one wants to consider manually filling his water with a garden hose daily in Summer when evaporation is such an issue.
In short, don’t let me misstate things – water features are fairly complex. They possess many puzzles, some which only appear later for the unwary. It must be said too – Add that they are costly. An installation of a water feature is a “marriage”, of sorts with the constructor. One wants to know those who constructed it and who are now most familiar with its installation will be around in later seasons to help guide the homeowner in the proper direction for maintenance issues. Having said this, a curious client and student can teach himself darn near all he needs to know. It isn’t rocket surgery, after all.

8 thoughts on “Landscape & Natural Waterfalls – A Professional Admirer’s View

  1. It’s a killer waterfall. Brian, it is also in the vicinity of The Oregon Garden Project – a wonderful place and a must-see for an architect.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing the awesome waterfall pictures. I was in New Zealand last year and they have some absolutely stunning waterfalls all over the place. You almost get used to seeing them!

    I think they can be a great little feature for landscapers to draw ideas from as well.


  3. Waterfalls are a great opportunity these days. Technology has gone so unbelievably far in making them possible, it has become almost easy. That Oregon waterfall is just one of dozens around there. The place is filthy with them, lol.

  4. LOL, James. I’ve worked with Cummins Diesels for water pumps.I could guess and get close I bet.

  5. The Ira Keller Falls in Portland, Oregon completely blew me away, I’ve never seen that before! I really enjoy anything with lots of water as part of the theme – waterfalls, fountains, springs etc. Beautiful pictures.

  6. Yeah, it’s almost other-worldly. What’s most intriguing about these falls is how it is tucked into some otherwise inauspicious section of downtown. I discovered it by walking to a movie, lol. I looked over and went – “Whoa!!”

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