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Outdoor Tub + Waterfall Feature

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I had been wanting a small pond with some form of waterfall, even before I saw the below forum post. I've made some progress so I figured I'd document what I've done so far, and what my plans are. I'm far from an expert on this, so feel free to give me suggestions or tell me I'm doing things all wrong. And if anyone has any questions I can certainly answer anything that I've learned with my vast experience of building half of a 100gallon pond ūüôā.

I definitely did take some inspiration from here:


I have a deck that I wanted to incorporate, so I built the pond just off the end. I'll probably have to add in some rails or safety (I'm sure it's not to code shhhhh). My plan was to just build something quick and cheap as a little experiment, with maybe a larger one in the future (I want to incorporate a raised design to incorporate in with my raised garden beds).

So to do it cheap I used the following materials so far:

  • Pond Master 950 Pump - $115 (probably too late now, but I welcome your thoughts on this model or alternatives).
  • Diverter valve - $15 (not sure I'll even use, mostly as a reducer/flow back into the pond)
  • Misc adapters and ball valve - $10 (still need to get more today)
  • 1-1/2" flexible tubing, 20ft - $35 (gosh I hope 1-1/2" is good)
  • Misc paint - $15
  • Pond Liner, 45mil 10'x12' - $140 ( I thinkkk, I can't find what exactly I ordered)
  • Flower pots - free!
  • Manually shoveling a 100gal hole - free!

So, not that cheap. But I didn't go with the most luxurious pump, and I'm not sure where else I could have shaved some money.

For the waterfall, I decided to use some old busted fiberglass pots I had:


I was roughly thinking something like the layout above to waterfall into each pot, and then the pond.

I painted them black, and painted the inside with the water sealing black spray paint. I still have to cut up the liner and silicone some holes in the pots. Might just try to line the majority with the liner if I can for added protection. But they look a lot better painted!:



I then dug the hole, and dug some more, and then removed rocks, and dug some more. I'm not horribly concerned with the shape. I also decided to have it overflow into a boggy type area where there will be rocks and plants throughout. I'll also incorporate a step down and stepping stones through the wet bog so you can kind of walk through the pond itself!

Oh here's the hole:



Not the greatest picture, but you get the idea. A few different levels, and the pump will sit on a bucket near the bottom.

I had some old carpet we just replaced, so I cut that up and laid it in to protect the liner:

I then laid the liner in, and filled up 5 gallon buckets to pour into the pond so I could measure how big it actually is. It will be just shy of 100 gallons once i edge out the lawn a bit more and raise up the low side a bit so the pond will all be a little higher.



So that's where I'm at right now! Already a girl from my neighborhood was over and just stared at the pond and bubbling water ūüėĄ. It's already enjoyable as is!

Things I'm concerned with:

  • Will the pump provide enough pressure? It's 950gph, 15' travel and 5' vertical. I don't want it gushing, really just a trickle so fingers crossed.
  • Will the tree just constantly shed into water?
  • Will the fish/shrimp survive (more on that below)?
  • Will the pots hold up? I'm okay if they just last a few years..
  • Safety
  • How will it look??
  • Everything that you smart forum members will point out I messed up ūüė¨
  • Anything that can go wrong with my next steps...

Next steps!

  1. Go to the store today and pick up fittings for the pump to the tube. The pump has a .5" outlet and I have 1.5" tubing. Also have to get silicone and more paint.
  2. ADD THE FISH! So I have about a million guppies and a decent amount of blue rili shrimp in my 20 gallon. Like way too many guppies for the 20gal. WAY WAY TOO MANY. So I'm going to add a couple at a time here soon to see how they do. I welcome all suggestions here. But I hope to throw a ton in there and watch them multiple, and then sell them at the end of the summer.
  3. Line, silicone, and paint the pots
  4. Edge the grass out some. Raise the low end under the liner and fill it up more.
  5. Get a nice stepping rock for the main step down
  6. Trim the liner
  7. Incorporate rocks around the edges and in the bog
  8. Setup the waterfall pots
  9. Run the tubing to the waterfall. Possibly cut a hole in a pot
  10. Plug it all in and adjust as necessary. Hope for the best...
  11. Buy/gather some plants for the bog and the pond itself
  12. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

What am I forgetting?!

Thanks for reading so far, I'll update in the next few days!!

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Things I'm concerned with:

Will the pump provide enough pressure? It's 950gph, 15' travel and 5' vertical. I don't want it gushing, really just a trickle so fingers crossed:

If you want a "trickle", the pump is too big.  The pump packaging should include a chart that shows GPH at 5' of lift. It won't be 950.

Will the tree just constantly shed into water?: Yes. Buy a pool net or kitchen strainer.  The tree can be a good thing because it will provide some shade, and possibly bugs for the fish.  The shade will also help with algae control.

Will the fish/shrimp survive (more on that below)?  I guess that depends on where you live. I have no experience with tropical fish outdoors.

Will the pots hold up? I'm okay if they just last a few years.  The painted plastic should last for years as sunlight is their biggest enemy.

Safety:  A GFI device is a must for the electric.  The presence of very small children is a consideration.

How will it look??

With a little bit of planning, it will look great this year, and better next year.  A pile of rocks. will always look like a pile of rocks.  Give some extra thought to shape, color and placement.  They will look different when they are wet.   Rushes/horsegrass looks natural but once established is painfully invasive if not contained.   My favorite plants for edging a small pond are ground covering Sedum.  They are zero maintenance, won't obstruct the view, change color with the seasons, and hide most of the mistakes as they naturalize.

Anything that can go wrong with my next steps...

Think like a rain drop!  The water will always take the easy way out.  You may have to use bulkheads to connect the tubing to the plastic pots.  Silicone alone may not work. 

Be sure to read the labels.  Some products are water resistant, not waterproof. 

Be sure the pots are secure.  If a child, pet, or gravity moves one of them you may find water in all the wrong places.


There will always be some adjustments to be made, but at the end of the day the reward is well worth the effort.  I hope this helps.




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20 hours ago, Tanked said:

There will always be some adjustments to be made, but at the end of the day the reward is well worth the effort.  I hope this helps.

Great suggestions thanks for the response.

I have a splitter and a ball valve to adjust flow. I think it's more than enough but we'll see when the time comes Definitely plan to get a net to remove debris regularly. I'm in New York. I'm not worried about the summer and I'll sell them off at the end. I'm more nervous about wildlife, bad pond conditions, etc. The plan is to hard wire it in with my electrician brother. Right now it's just plugged into an outdoor GFI outlet.

I'm really excited about getting rocks and plants this weekend. It should look awesome in a few weeks, and then like you said even better next summer! The two fish so far are looking healthy. I'll update this post probably this weekend.



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What are your plans for filtration? I used to have a  200-300g pond with a waterfall feed. I hid a bucket filled with sponge and floss at the top of the system and just let the water flow through that. It worked great and I never saw any Ammonia or Nitrites. I bet you could do the same with your flower pots. 

Edited by Patrick_G
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