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The Pond-less System

Lots of people want a water garden in their yard or business but have hindering concerns about the maintenance, safety and size of a traditional pond. The pond-less waterfall is the perfect solution for situations where a pond would be impossible but a flowing water feature is highly desired. A pond-less waterfall is a recalculating stream or waterfall constructed from rocks and gravel to mimic a natural watercourse, but unlike a pond it has no pool of standing water at the end. A pond-less waterfall instead flows into a gravel-filled, rubber-lined basin, in which is contained the pump that returns the water to the watercourse. This basin acts as the reservoir for the waterfall the same way a pond would, but the water is hidden beneath a bed of gravel, protected from the sunlight. This results in a nearly maintenance-free water feature!

We carry a complete line of products to make a pond-less water feature and kits that contain everything needed to make a dazzling pond-less waterfall except the rocks and water. Be sure to check out the kits here.

This article will detail the advantages of a pond-less waterfall over a tradition pond and waterfall system. Then it will reveal the basic construction of a pond-less system and the main components thereof.

Advantages of a Pond-less System

When a water garden is desired, but a pond is out of the question, consider these advantages of a pond-less system, it may be just what you were looking for!

  • Virtually Maintenance-Free – Without a natural ecosystem to worry about in order to keep the water clear, the maintenance requirements of adding regular doses of biological treatments, adding and maintaining aquatic plants, testing the water and keeping it free of harsh chemicals disappear. Instead, one could chlorinate a pond-less system like a pool or use chemical algaecides to keep it clear. But the system doesn’t even need that! If left alone, a pond-less system will only develop string algae on the rocks, but there will be no green water because most of the water never sees the sun. Adding biological treatments on a regular basis to keep the string algae at bay is always an option, though, and is recommended despite the lack of need to maintain a balanced ecosystem.

    A pond-less system also rarely requires a complete cleanout. Most ponds have to be drained every season or so and cleaned thoroughly. Since a pond-less has no pond for leaves and other organic waste to settle and turn to sludge, there is no need to clean it. Leaves and other airborne debris can collect in a stream, though, and it is recommended to periodically clean these out in the fall to prevent them from decomposing in the system.

    The most regular maintenance that a pond-less system needs is periodic refilling of any water lost through evaporation or other means. If an auto-fill valve is installed in a pond-less system, the need for filling becomes eliminated and the system becomes very nearly maintenance-free!
  • No fish – Since a pond-less waterfall or stream has no body of standing water, there is no room for fish. This eliminates any worry about care and responsibility for a fish community. Without fish, the system does not need to run 24 hours a day, either, only when you’re around to enjoy it.
  • Economical – A pond-less waterfall is less expensive to install and run than a traditional pond. The components cost less and the requirements for rocks is fewer, making installation cheaper. The system does not require as much or sometimes any water treatments, saving on upkeep costs. Since a pond-less system does not need to be run 24 hours in order to maintain fish and ecosystem health, it can be shut down when you’re not viewing it. But the pump on a timer to shut off at night or unplug it when you go on vacation to save money on power.

    A pond-less system experiences a lot less evaporation and other water loss than a traditional pond because the water reservoir is buried in gravel. It also doesn’t need to be refilled as soon as the water level drops by a couple inches. This results in a lower water consumption overall for the pond-less system.
  • Safe – Because the water reservoir is hidden beneath a bed of gravel, there are no pools of water exposed for someone to fall into. This makes the pond-less waterfall a perfect application where small children play or in public places where liability is a concern.
  • Beautiful – A pond-less system still gives the tranquility of running water, the sounds, shimmers and splashing. A pond-less waterfall or stream can be designed to mimic a natural watercourse with the application of rocks and gravel. If you would like to dabble in water plants, the option is still open with a pond-less waterfall. Small aquatic plants can be planted directly into the rocks of the watercourse. The presence of running water also attracts birds, frogs and other wildlife, enhancing the natural beauty of your landscape.

Components and Construction of a Pond-less System

There are six main parts to a pond-less system. The first is the waterfall spillway box at the top of this system. The water from here spills into the watercourse, the second component, which is lined with rubber and covered in rocks and gravel to give it a natural appearance. At the end of the watercourse, the water runs into a bed of gravel which houses under it the basin reservoir, the third component. Inside the reservoir is a plastic molded pump vault, to contain, protect and enable access to the pump, and plastic basin matrix, which act to fill space in the basin, conserving gravel and enhancing the storage capacity of the basin, the fourth components. Finally there’s the pump and flexible PVC plumbing that returns the water back to the spillway.

The construction of a pond-less system is very similar to that of a traditional pond, but simpler. The difference comes in at the excavation and construction of the basin. In a traditional pond, the hole for the pond has to be dug to within certain specifications with ledges, horizontal shelves and a proper water level. The pond-less basin does not have to be very precise. The basin is generally deeper than a pond of similar size, but is smaller in cross section and overall volume, decreasing the amount of digging required. Once the basin is dug, all that is needed is the placement of the pump vault and basin matrix. After that, the basin gets filled completely with gravel. Except for in the stream or waterfall itself, a pond-less basin doesn’t need the laborious task of stacking rocks in a pond.

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