Blue LED lights create a unique look to the waterfall at night.
Blue LED lights create a unique look to the waterfall at night.
Water flows over a limestone spillway into a lower reservoir, where it is recirculated back to the top.
Water flows over a limestone spillway into a lower reservoir, where it is recirculated back to the top.

Have you ever had a client who wanted a water feature in a landscaping project, but didn't' want to maintain a pond or make room for one? If so, consider a pondless water feature that can be installed as part of a paver patio.

Garry Ferrell, general manager and lead designer for Wilson Landscape Associates, Columbus, Ohio, points out that pondless water features are an emerging trend in landscaping. “You get the look and sound of the water, but don't get the maintenance headaches,” said Ferrell.

Perfect patio

The water feature is part of a large, raised, multi-level patio complex that includes an outdoor kitchen, elevated fire pit, and multiple freestanding walls. The waterfall flows from an aggregate-filled upper reservoir integrated into the freestanding wall that encompasses the patio, over a custom cut limestone spillway and into a lower aggregate-filled reservoir built under the patio.

“What's not seen is the lower reservoir where the waterfall falls onto the decorative aggregate below,” Farrell explained. “That pit is actually over 4-ft deep. There's a 3200-gpm pump in a cylinder at the bottom that recirculates the water back to the upper reservoir.” The lower reservoir is 4-ft square and filled with a combination of smooth, river-washed gravel and Mexican pebble.

“We needed something strong for the reservoir box to contain the aggregate and hold the pavers on top. VERSA-LOK's solid units were perfect,” he explained. “It was important to have something strong and durable, but still a little flexible.”

Standard retaining wall units pinned and glued were used for the construction. A membrane was placed between the aggregate and box to keep it watertight.

The upper box measures 6-ft x 6-ft, with a 4-ft x 4-ft reservoir that is 3-ft deep. The base of the upper box was constructed in a similar fashion. The visible portion of the upper box was built using VERSA-LOK's random-pattern Mosaic.

“I thought the color and weathered texture of the block blended well with the aggregate that we used,” said Ferrell. “And the segmental structure was flexible enough to hold that upper tier.”

The limestone for the spillway matched equally well, Ferrell noted. “The stone had some tan in it that pulled out the chestnut color of the VERSA-LOK.”

Plantings overhang the front of the water feature, while cast pineapple statues serve as finials on the rear corners to add a tropical effect. Blue LED lights were glued to the units under the waterfall that give it an almost ethereal look at night.