28 Stunning Koi Pond Waterfall Designs

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A waterfall is a multi-purpose feature in ornamental ponds. While it certainly adds to the visual and auditory charm of a koi pond, it also plays a major role in ensuring the water quality is optimized. The continuous flow of water, which disrupts the surface, allows more oxygen to dissolve into and disperse throughout the entire pond. To accentuate the overall appeal of the waterfall, its design should seamlessly blend into the pond’s borders. For some creative inspiration, browse through the ideas below!


Koi pond with natural stone waterfall

Use natural stones to create a cascade effect along one side of the pond. Stones of various sizes and textures, with a few grasses or moisture-loving plants emerging through their gaps, should produce the most ecologically realistic design.


Mossy koi pond waterfall

Encourage moss to grow on the surface of rocks. A healthy layer of moss can help filter the water of excess particles and nutrients.


Koi pond with flat stone slab waterfall

Pile on flat slabs of stone to add levels to a simple waterfall. Tiered rock formations draw the eye and can serve as a dramatic focal point for your koi pond.


Koi pond waterfall with levels of different widths

For a Zen-like effect, increase the width of each level of the waterfall. To prevent water from spilling over the borders of the waterfall, lower levels should have a higher width than upper ones.


Koi pond waterfall with miniature pool

Add a miniature pool to one of the levels to help minimize turbulence along the bottom of the waterfall. The miniature pool may be left bare or filled with small stones or pebbles; these increase the surface area on which beneficial bacteria may thrive.


Simple, one-layered koi pond waterfall

For smaller koi ponds, consider adding a simple, one-layered waterfall flanked by symmetrical stone piles. The spillway should not be too high, especially if the pond depth is less than 3 feet, to prevent excessive turbulence.


Koi pond with short stream flowing into waterfall

If your garden’s bare space allows it, add a short stream from which water flows onto the topmost level of the waterfall. Birds, insects, and amphibians may venture into this zone for a quick bath or a light drink.


Koi pond with rock waterfall

Play with the arrangement of rocks to divide the cascade into multiple curtains. Arrangements like these are particularly beautiful in ornamental koi ponds with organic shapes.


Koi pond with two waterfalls

Why limit yourself to one waterfall if there’s room for two? Medium to large-sized koi ponds need more sources of aeration, and multiple waterfalls can be an efficient way to meet this requirement.


Koi pond with multiple cascades on one side

Situate multiple cascades on one side of the pond. This leaves an opposite corner with relatively still water for your koi. Keep in mind that, while these fish can enjoy flowing water, they will want to rest in slow-moving currents.


Koi pond waterfall with ornamental grasses

Complement your design with tufts of ornamental grasses. Consider creating an asymmetrical finish by situating the plants on alternating sides of the waterfall.


Koi pond with waterfall and smaller spillway

Add a smaller spillway to one side of a koi pond to create two focal points. This ensures that more sections of the pond are aerated by flowing water. It also begs for more dynamic observation, encouraging the eye to move back and forth between water features.


Rectangular koi pond with waterfall

For ponds with straight, well-defined edges, construct your waterfalls using smooth, rounded boulders. This fine contrast accentuates the beauty of opposing elements in your pond.


Koi pond with rain curtain

For an undeniably oriental touch, one that is reminiscent of the flow of water in rainforests, install a rain curtain or a slanting, textured roof on one side of the pond. This can be mounted on a variety of objects, including symbolic pagodas or ethnic posts.


Pond with two perpendicular waterfalls

Naturalize the far edge with two waterfalls oriented perpendicularly. A continuous current should meet and ripple through the rest of the pond, bringing prismatic bubbles to every exposed corner.


Pond waterfall with multiple tiers of divided water curtains

Multiple tiers of divided curtains of water can make for a hypnotic waterfall design. It can also provide the illusion of a much larger and forceful waterfall, one which significantly adds to the vertical dimension of a small koi pond.


Pond waterfall with varying tier heights

Vary the height of each tier on your waterfall, especially if you intend to create pools with both high and low turbulence levels. Calmer pools should attract a high diversity of wildlife. You may increase the height between the lowermost tier and the pond’s surface to generate higher dissolved oxygen levels.


Pond waterfall with semi-aquatic grasses and trailing plants

Grow semi-aquatic grasses and trailing plants within or around your waterfall’s curtains and its pools. A small burst of green behind a curtain of water can prove to be an elegant and nuanced component of a koi pond.


Pond with subtle sloping waterfall

The edges of each tier may be cliff-like or have a subtle slope. Get creative as combined variations on the flow of water can have a therapeutic visual effect.


Koi pond

The source pool of a waterfall can be another pond in and of itself! Larger and more energetic fish should be situated in the main pond as the depth of a shallow pool can place them in harm’s way.


Small pond with waterfall

For more complexity, some sections of the cascade may be multi-tiered whereas a separate curtain may be allowed to flow into the pond unobstructed by any layers. Flank these with dense arrangements of humidity-tolerant plants. Make sure to place floating aquatic plants away from the most energetic zones.


Koi pond surrounded by ornamental plants

Complement your pond’s waterfall with a backdrop of ornamental trees and textural herbs. These should help soften the appearance of rock slabs, achieving a more cohesive finish.


Small koi pond

Some modern koi ponds have an indoor-outdoor feel to them. Subtle lighting above the cascade of water gives it an ethereal look. Draw your attention to the size of the waterfall, which perfectly complements that of this small koi pond.


Indoor koi pond

Koi ponds that are fully indoors are best outfitted with water features that do not cause high humidity or spread water droplets to areas outside the bounds of the pond. A small, single-tiered waterfall, with an edge suspended just a few inches above the water’s surface, can adequately improve oxygen conditions as well as the pond’s audiovisual appeal.


Koi pond with bamboo spouts

For an unmistakably oriental theme, use one or more bamboo spouts to design a waterfall unlike any other. These can be situated above multiple layers of stone or be secured directly onto the low edge of the koi pond.


Brick spillway as a waterfall in a koi pond

A brick spillway as a waterfall is a great way to add interest to one neat edge of a rectangular or square koi pond. Use terracotta pots with tufts of leafy greens to accent the bricks.


Koi pond with clay pipes

A row of pots or large clay pipes, oriented in a sideways manner, should make for a rustic water feature. Varied volumes of water can be funneled through these.


Koi pond with water fountain

An overflowing fountain that doubles as a water source for a cascade of water would be a regal yet quirky conversation piece. Place plants around the base of the fountain to hide or blend any artificial elements.

Final Thoughts

When designed creatively, a pond’s waterfalls can be a testament to one’s ingenuity and passion for all things ornamental. One of the best functional components for koi ponds, waterfalls, may have multiple levels, be made using all sorts of materials, and be used to generate one or many separate chutes of flowing water. When finalizing your design, ensure that it is compatible with the size, depth, and volume of your pond. Also, keep in mind that a waterfall system does entail additional maintenance costs and requirements, so aim to instill efficiency in beauty!

Angeline L
About the author

Angeline L

I'm a passionate researcher and scuba diver with a keen interest in garden plants, marine life, and freshwater ecology. I think there’s nothing better than a day spent writing in nature. I have an academic and professional background in sustainable aquaculture, so I advocate for the responsible production of commercial fish, macroinvertebrates, and aquatic plants.

Read more about Pond Informer.

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