Create a waterfall the smart way

Where to start

Adding a waterfall to an existing pond, or building a pond with a waterfall can be easy!

Step 1: Before the build


The waterfall needs to be located above the pond’s surface, so you can see the waterfall flow into the water.

Pump size

Do you have the right-sized waterfall pump? The higher the pumping height (the distance from the pump to the spillway) the more powerful the waterfall pump will need to be.

water flow

How much flow do you want? The strength of your waterfall’s flow depends on the height of the waterfall, width of the spillway, tubing size, and the pump’s size. You can have a gentle cascade or a roaring stream of water.

TIP! For a gentler flow, choose the largest tubing size recommended for the pump. For a faster flow, use the smaller size recommended for the pump.


Waterfalls help circulate and oxygenate the pond’s water, but a filtration system is still needed for water quality and clarity.

There are several types of filtration available in our smartpond line.

Pre-filters collect debris from the water and prevent it from entering the pump.  They protect the pump, thereby leading to a longer pump life and better performance.  

Mechanical filters work with a pump to move the water and catch large and small pieces of debris. All of our smartpond products include a form of mechanical filtration by way of the filter pads within the product. The filter pads catch debris from the water as it passes through the filter.

Biological filters use beneficial bacteria to naturally break down organic decaying material. Our filters all include Bio-Balls, which provide more surface space to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Pressurized filters combine the power of mechanical and biological filtration. The pressure in these filters is forced through the filter by way of the pump, not giving debris a chance to settle in your pond.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Technology ensures water clarity and a healthy pond environment for plants and fish. Water is pumped through a carefully calibrated UV chamber at just the right speed to provide maximum exposure. The UV light helps clean the green out of the water. The results are a crystal clear and healthy pond you can enjoy all year round.

We recommend these smartpond filters, for use with an additional pond pump:

Pump Filter Box or UV Pond Clarifier for ponds up to 200 gallons.

Pump Filter Box, UV Pond Clarifier or Pond Filter for ponds up to 500 gallons.

UV Pond Clarifier, or Pond Filter for ponds up to 800 gallons.

Multiple Pond Filters can be connected for larger pond or ponds with fish needing extra filtration.

Looking for an all in one, additional filtration system for your pond? Consider the Filter Kit with Pump. Ideal for ponds up to 500 gallons or as an add-on filtration option in a larger pond, it includes the filter box, filter pads, bio-balls, pond pump, and nozzle kit.

Step 2: Create your spillway

The spillway should sit on a flat surface at the edge of the pond. You can create a spillway using flat stones or use a smartpond® spillway and disguise it with rocks and plants. The more you are able to hide the spillway and tubing, the more natural the waterfall looks. 

The waterfall needs to be set up higher than the pond's surface so that the flowing water is visible. The higher the spillway is set up, the more water flow there will be.

TIP! It is recommended that water gardens containing basic fish should be at least 1.5 ft. deep. In areas with colder winters, 2 – 2.5 ft. deep would be more ideal but Koi ponds require 3 ft. depth or more.

Step 3: Determine Pumping Height

The black smartpond pressurized pond filter is shown being hidden with landscaping stones outside of the pond.

Choosing the right pump is essential. A pump that is too strong will create a turbulent flow, while a weak pump won’t give the full waterfall effect. The pump size depends on the height of the spillway. 

The rule of thumb is for every 1 in. of spillway width, you need 100 gallons per hour flow to achieve a “sheet” look. 

Divide by two for a “trickle” look. 

Multiply by two for a “Niagara” look.

Keep in mind, excessive bend or in-line filters will reduce the flow.

Now that you know the waterfall’s pumping height and spillway width, it’s time to start selecting products.

Select your products

Now that you’ve planned your waterfall and selected the size, it’s time to Select your products