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Maintaining Your Disappearing Waterfall

Disappearing or pond-less waterfall features bring the sights and sounds of moving water to your landscape without an open body of water. This type of feature requires far less maintenance than a traditional koi pond or water garden. Since these waterfall features won’t have fish you don’t have the need for filters that need to be cleaned. But that doesn’t mean it is completely maintenance-free. Lets talk about what care IS needed for disappearing waterfalls and streams.

Algae Control

Algae can be an issue in disappearing waterfalls just like ponds. But here we are typically dealing primarily with filamentous algae (string algae) and we don’t have to worry about the safety of fish as we manage the algae growth.

A great algae prevention option here is to use an ionizer. Ionizers install on the plumbing line and use an electronic control to release a measured amount of copper and other minerals into the water column to prevent algae growth. Once installed there is periodic testing of the water to ensure the right amount of mineralization is occurring. These also feature a replaceable anode that can be changed out when it has been depleted.

Chemical treatment is also an option for keeping the green algae at bay. Algaecides such as Fountec can be very effective with regular use and are safe for birds, pets, and other wildlife that may visit the feature.

Green growth built up on the stream and waterfall rocks can be spot-cleaned with a direct contact treatment such as Oxy Pond Cleaner. This treatment is simply sprinkled on the algae while the pump is off for about 20 minutes.

Minimize Debris Build-Up and Odors

Organic debris from leaves, dust, etc is bound to buildup in the feature. You can keep this to a minimum by using a packaged bacterial treatment like Microbe Lift PL. If allowed to remain it can cause unpleasant odors over time.

Maintaining Water Volume

Evaporation and some splash is bound to decrease the volume of water in the feature. With plenty of rain this won’t become an issue, but that rain may not always occur. For appearance and protection of the pump it is important to ensure the reservoir maintains an adequate supply of water. You may choose to automate this by installing an auto-fill float device. This device will attach to a water supply to add water as the level in the reservoir drops.

If not using an auto-fill then periodically opening the pump vault to check the water level is key. Simply drag the water hose out and top-off as needed.

Prevent Excess Water Loss

Leaves and other debris making its way into the stream and waterfall can collect amongst the rocks. As it does this can create a dam that diverts the water flow. It is possible this diversion can start sending water over the liner edge and out of the feature which can quickly cause water loss and pump damage. Regularly inspecting the area can stop the problems before it starts. And placing leaf netting over the feature in the fall can make this a lot easier.

Full Clean

Despite our best efforts we may find muck and debris has accumulated in the bottom of the reservoir over time. Fortunately, when this happens cleaning isn’t too complicated. A good manual cleaning can help remedy this situation. Start by turning off the recirculating pump. Then if you have a sump pump you can use this to get most of the water out of the reservoir by placing it in the pump vault. Finally, use a wet/dry shop vac to vacuum out the remaining water and debris from the bottom of the vault. Spraying through the stone during the process gets even more muck removed.

Basic maintenance like the steps above will help ensure the waterfall feature stays beautiful and functional for years to come.