Christopher French Construction Company Website

General Contractor - Licensed, Bonded and Insured # 500957
Serving Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley, California
This is our
Water Features web page.
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Christopher French Construction Co.
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Below is a detailed story with photos along the way of how
we built a beautiful waterfall feature in Santa Clarita, CA.
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Water features in any home or commercial property add so much! The peaceful sounds of water trickling over the spillways calm
our nerves and create a feeling of being in nature itself. Because of our need to earn a living in the city, we rarely have time to
travel and enjoy the great outdoors. I believe that is why water features are so popular. If we can't go to nature, we can bring
nature to us, or at least some portion of it. Running water over rocks and boulders can produce a very realistic sound of a
mountain stream. Today's electric waterfall pumps are very efficient and quiet. Water features come in all shapes and sizes, the
imagination of design and materials used are unending in what can be created. Water features can be placed in any size yard
too! Often people will use them in noisy areas, or near busy streets, to help quiet unwanted sounds.

This waterfall creation below was designed to have two large spillways. The upper fall was 2 feet in width and 2 1/2 feet high. The
lower fall was 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. Three water pumps were installed; the larger pump provided approximately 6300 GPH
(gallons per hour) and the medium 2900 GPH, and a small pump at 1300, (ratings figured at top of falls). Having 3 waterfall
pumps installed gave the owner 4 options. One, for a slower and more restful sounding waterfall, which also saves on the electric
bill; two and three, for a more aggressive and rushing waterfall; and four, having the option of turning them all on, for the most
impressive waterfall yet, for parties, etc.
The little red flags seen
here in this photo, was
where the waterfall would
begin, and then end in a
pond below. We later
decided to increase the
size of the pond because
of the over-splash from
the lower waterfall. It also
provided more room for
Koi or goldfish to swim.
Various scrubs and trees
had to be removed,
along with rerouting of
sprinkler pipes.  
Because of the hillside
slope, we built the
waterfall and pond of
high strength concrete
and steel. This method is
more costly than PVC
pond liners, but more
permanent; providing a
good foundation for
spillways and boulders
that won't shift and
change over time. Good
carpentry and concrete
forming skills are needed
for this type of
We used 2 x 6 forms and
made 5 1/2" curbs on
ether side of the
waterways. The curbs
worked great for
containing the rivers and
made a good foundation
for rock and boulders to
cement to.   
To form the lower pond
walls, we used vinyl
bender-board (used for
landscaping) screwed to
vertical 1 x 3 wooden
stakes. The inner
concrete wall forms had
to be suspended, which
was more difficult, so we
could do a monolithic
pour of concrete.
(Monolithic means
pouring all the concrete
at the same time, to
prevent cold joints and
possible leaks)    
The pond depth was 3
feet, with a step (or
shelf) around the
outside to be used for
holding water plants.
6 mill plastic was
installed before adding
the concrete to keep
ground moisture from
leaching into our future
pond. This was not an
easy task with all our
steel rebar to work
around, but considering
the years this waterfall
would be around it was
well worth it.
1/2" steel re-bar was
added for strength. If
the concrete develops
hairline cracks in the
future, it won't separate
or pull away from itself.
Small cracks are easy to
waterproof if needed.
Notice the indentation
and drop for a small
pool behind the spillway,
which will help even out
the falls and make them
more steady.
Notice the step in the foundation
between the top of the lower falls
and bottom of the pond, this was
done to give a footing and base for
the stones behind the waterfall.
A small 12" x 4 foot deep
steel and concrete
caisson was added
midway up the hillside, in
the river area, to help
keep the concrete water
feature in place over
years of time.
5 1/2 sack, 2500 lb psi
strength concrete was
used. We found this mix
to be very effective for
not leaching much
calcium and mineral
deposits when curing.
This ready mix concrete
was extremely dense
and strong. When
removing our forms the
next day, we found this
to be true.
Our first trial run with the water pump went well. There was over-spray at the
falls without having the rocks in place but we were satisfied with the results.
Before adding the
sealer over the concrete
we removed any sharp
edges or bumps with a
masonry grinder.
Before adding the sealer
we applied a bonding
agent to make certain
the sealer would adhere
to the concrete.
Applying the sealer with
a 4" brush, working it
into any pits or groves
in the concrete.
Over 4 tons of rock and
stone were installed.
75% of them were
cemented into position,
to keep them from
moving or falling, which
created a very
impressive and natural
looking water feature.

Vegetation and water
plants also played a
very important part in
giving our water feature
the natural look and
atmosphere we desired.
Here is a photo of the waterfall 14 months after it was built. Over time it became more a part of the
surrounding landscape as the flowers and plants matured. The sound of water running over the falls
reminded me of being in the mountains along a running river. It was also interesting watching the owner
feed his Koi fish that came to the top for a nibble.   
All photos and text copyrighted
See other web pages with this website:
Building a custom home from scratch! See how we built this home from the dirt up!
Cardon Cactus (video of how we planted this giant cactus cutting)
Patio Covers and Decks (Info and photos about Decks, Patio Covers, Pergola's and Trellises)
Portfolio (See hundreds of our photos)
Kitchen Remodeling and Cabinetry (Info and photos about Kitchen remodels and more)
Home Page (See about us)