Have you ever painted a Jean Jacket?! It's fun and also somewhat of a challenge...…
After I made all the huge faux rocks it’s time to get this Faux Rock Waterfall constructed. It’s such a delight working with water and having a great ‘Natural wonder’ in your yard!
The arrangement of the ‘Before’ Pond.
This is not your usual pond situation, as we have a special pet that needs a habitat. Meet our Turtle ‘Tyler’ (who I think is actually a ‘she’) that we have had for many many years. Take note; this Red-Eared slider pet has been with us for 31 years! Since we have predators in our yard we need to also secure him safely. All those challenges make for a unique arrangement for a pond. The ‘old waterfall’ did not have much effect and also needed to be higher for ease of opening the structure. Being in Canada, this specie needs to come into the house over the winter.
My old pond arrangement was made of small rock that I had collected from the nearby escarpment. Rocks do come in many colours and characteristics but I wanted BIG ones. The pond itself is a thick livestock water container about the size of a bathtub.
There is a pond pump immersed in the pond and I ran the hose up through one side (a slot cut) and its winds under the rocks which makes easy access to it. This allows that I can pull the hose from the water feature and use it to pump out the water. Turtles are messy animals as they eat meat. They also do not fair well with aquatic vegetation in a small pond so the water does become quite full of algae. Who knew they had such a long life span?!
I took apart the old meandering waterfall and planned for effect from the use of my larger ‘faux rocks’
Before I added the second step of texture when making the rocks I did do a ‘dry-fit’ to see some options of arrangement. Rather than make one complete structure I felt that there is more ability to alter by having individual ones that can rearranged. I always tend to keep every project have the option of design changes; it’s how I ‘roll’.
Tyler needed to be relocated for a bit of time but was anxious to see what was going on. I really do think he/she does recognize me!
Just like building blocks.
I’m sorry I do not have step-by-step pictures of how each rock went into place, but each time I arranged I would step back and look. Often it meant going back or substituting, taking a break and coming back with ‘new eyes’.
Tip; do not try for symmetry, rather some balance and interest. Try to keep a somewhat layered look as nature often has that. I combined the real rocks with the large faux ones which also gave the challenge of colour combinations. Some rocks just sat well with each other but some needed to be secured. In nature there is no glue, they are settled with plants and soil and become more set with all the rain and elements. The old waterfall stream had stayed well for years even though it wasn’t cemented.
To secure the rocks that needed some extra adhering I used construction adhesive. I often learn about media from how it cleans up; well this stuff is so permanent that I had to have it wear off my hands for days! That is a good sign, but next time – gloves!
Pile it on!
To make working on the facade of the waterfall I would just step into the pond. I would test the way the water flowed by putting the hose in place. It is good to have extra flexible hose. The pump is quite small for a lot of flow. I believe it is about 600 GPH (gallon per hour). I do not run it 100% of the time so I am not that concerned about power usage, but these days there are even solar ones.
The top rock (large flat one here) is the one made to cascade the water and needed to be attached well as it cantilevers over the rest. Since the water flows as it wants, small adjustments were needed for levelling. The back of this rock had a small channel planned for the hose and as you see there is a flat rock covering the end of the hose. When I need to empty the pond I can just pull the hose from behind and let it empty over the yard.
When everything was in place I did make some adjustments to the colour of the faux rocks. Many of the real ones had been in the shade and had much mossy and dark staining. I know eventually the faux rocks will also get stained since they are porous like rock but I found they did still need some warmth added with a bit of dry-brushing. Acrylic paint will fade over time time but the natural staining will likely take over. I see it in my other concrete pieces.
I did also notice that wet rock and dry rock look different so do not get too obsessed with the colours. Too much perfection will make it look more fake!
Colour truly is everywhere!
In my case the rock ‘species’ had a lot of warmth in the colours. To achieve this I used some yellow and red to make orange, added some white and a tiny bit of blue to make it less saturated… A little accenting does a lot.
For last large Rock that I made as just a landscape accent I left the bottom off. It will be interesting to see if some creature makes a home of it. It is not noticeable that it is all hollow at all. I also threw some course sand into the concrete mix for more natural texture. That goes to show you that there really are no rules. I am sure your faux rocks will get better with practice!
Turtle and I are Happy!
All said and done; I am happy! I know not everyone is obsessed with a ‘natural water feature’ but I like a challenge! It gives me some peace and wonderful ambient noise in my sanctuary. All those years of hiking and nature trails has translated in a tiny piece of my own ‘natural’ wonder!
I see Tyler approves and he was in a hurry to get back to his home! Thank goodness he chose this place instead of the last place he ended up! – But that’s another whole story for another time!
Enjoy you concrete and ‘Rock’ on!