Building The Waterfall Feature – RB Project #7.5

Each Boulder Has Its Place

The other day the homeowner of this project said to me, “I had no idea what goes into building a pool and waterfall like this”.  Of course you may hike in the wilderness and see beautiful waterfalls, rushing streams and serene pools, and think “how did they come to be?”  Well, we could wax philosophically and spiritually on the topic, but that would make for one long article – another time perhaps. I would like to just tell you briefly how we go about building waterfalls with the methods pool contractor Barry Marson has developed over the years.

After the homeowner selects the boulder type, Barry sends one of his staff to the stone supplier.  If there are particular requirements in terms of shape or size he searches for those boulders that meet them.  Otherwise it is a process of selecting a collection of rocks that offers enough creative variety to compose an interesting and natural water-feature.  This collection is then delivered to the site.

Pour The Footing And The Creative Work Begins

The entire water-feature must rest on a concrete footing to ensure that nothing moves once positioned. When the boulder placement is ready to start we usually have a design meeting on-site to discuss conceptually what the feature should look like, how it should perform (effects) and roughly establish its dimensions. It’s always interesting to me how the creative discussion then evolves into technical talk including structural and hydraulic design. Pool plumbing can get pretty crazy, especially on these waterfalls.

As you might expect (and logically so) it begins with the first boulders set on the “beam” of the pool.  In the rock-setter’s mind, he’s like a chess player thinking many moves ahead; where he wants to be, and what steps he needs to take now in order to get there.

The structural and plumbing aspects all the while have to be considered and worked in as the creative work progresses. I can tell you that on some days the guys may set only a few boulders, and the overall visual progress seems minimal.

The Waterfall Requires Patience

I say this for the homeowner because you’ll see the sitework, pool layout and dig, reinforcement rod and gunite “shoot” all happen readily. Then when the water-feature construction begins you notice the production pace slow down. I’d recommend you take a close look each day at what they’re doing.  The innovation and craftsmanship will impress you.

The boulder setting, plumbing and other structural work continues to a point close to the top before it is time to then position the slide. In the next post on this project we’ll see how the strategic placement of the boulders sets the stage for the waterslide and how one rock is “shaped” to meet the slide’s install specifications.  How did they ever do this stuff years ago without power equipment?!

Here’s the previous post for this project. And here’s the next.

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