Water Features

Water Features
Kenrow sits atop his triple-level waterfall in his backyard. The water is pumped by a swimming pool pump. (Photo courtesy of Owen Brewer, Sacramento Bee.)
Waterfalls and ponds can be constructed from more reasonably priced artificial rock or with more costly natural rock. Artificial rock, made from compressed foam "rocks," are set with acrylic cement and are much less labor intensive. That makes them about 50 percent cheaper than natural rock.

A water feature with artificial rock can be built and ready to use in a day or two, while natural rock structures can take a week or more, depending on the scope of the project. Ximenez' artificial rock structures are guaranteed for five years. They may need to be touched up thereafter, depending on how they're maintained.

By Nature's Design, a company in Citrus Heights, Calif., casts its own "rocks" from a sand-fiber base. It's called a caststone component building system, which can create waterfalls and rock outcroppings on pools, spas and ponds. "About 95 percent of our jobs are backyard waterfalls with ponds," says co-owner Mike Martin. "Customers want the looks and the sounds. Sometimes they want a lot of water sound to help drown out traffic noise. Some want fish; some don't."

A waterfall added to a swimming pool starts at about $2,500, while a stand-alone waterfall starts at $3,000. Thrams dug an old laundry room basin into his own back yard, bought a $100 pumping system, added plants and is happy with the results.

"You don't have to go off the edge when it comes to cost," he says. "You can create white noise to drown out your neighbor's air conditioner or road noise. White noise can be a very inexpensive thing to accomplish."