Building a Waterfall  in Your Yard 1

Roaring Fork Lifestyle recently spoke to landscape expert Mitch Gianinetti about what it takes to build a waterfall. Gianinetti, founder of Spring Creek Land and Waterscapes, has built dozens of waterfalls and landscapes throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Q: WHAT DOES THE WATERFALL BUILDING PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
A: It should start with planning: ideas, space, location, what the client wants to achieve. When I design water features, I typically get a vision after the first meeting and walking the property. It’s like a painting. The track hoe is my paint brush and the project is my canvas.Stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) is an outdoor water adventure that delivers excitement, balance, ease and confidence. Not much equipment is needed, and what’s needed can easily fit in a car: an inflatable paddle board, a paddle, a helmet (for river riding), a personal floatation device and “gripe” water shoes.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR LARGEST FALL, AND WHERE ARE YOUR FALLS LOCATED?
A: The largest fall would be a water feature for Wing property above River Valley Ranch. It has a 30-foot main fall plus three creeks, two ponds and two additional small falls. My company has created five water features and falls at the Roaring Fork Club. We have also done projects in Snowmass, West Sopris Creek, Missouri Heights and Glenwood Springs.

Q: DO I HAVE TO HAVE A HILL ON MY PROPERTY FOR YOU TO BUILD A WATERFALL?
A: No! You don’t have to have a hill, a stream or ditch on your property. Recently, in Blue Lake, we took out the existing front yard, created a berm, and then built a water feature with a wonderful pool. You would never know that the front yard had been flat and all lawn if you hadn’t seen it prior to the project.

Q: WHERE DOES THE WATER COME FROM, AND CAN IT BE RECYCLED?
A: The water comes from existing irrigation or it can be from a ditch. That water fills the water feature’s system, and it is always recycled. It typically runs down the waterfall and then fills up a pond or pool. It will continue to run until the system is drained.

Q: WHAT DO HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MAINTENANCE?
A: Water features, creeks and ponds can be designed to be virtually maintenance-free. They do need minimal, seasonal maintenance; that involves pumps and cleaning. Water features need to be winterized if they’re not designed to run during winter. But I have designed some that do run all winter. They will have ice on the sides, but I can build them so they don’t freeze over. Check out your supplier; ion generators reduce algae and your supplier should know about that. Typically, maintenance is part of what I provide as client service.

Q: WHAT KIND OF PERMISSIONS DO I NEED?
A: The owner is required to have all necessary permits in place – from the town, the county etc. But typically, no permits are required for a water feature. In most counties, tree removal does require permits. From start to finish, the time the project takes will vary depending on size and whether permits are needed. It can take anywhere from a week or two to a month or longer.

Q: WHAT STYLE OF WATERFALLS DO YOU LIKE?
A: As an avid outdoorsman, I have spent years analyzing natural waterscapes. It seemed natural to start creating them as clients requested pools and ponds. I like my work to appear as if it’s always been there, part of the natural landscape. But I do contemporary designs as well. If you want water features to really pop, you can add lighting. That really sets the mood, and sometimes the feature looks even better at night.