has anyone done a pondless system that functions for drainage?

Discussion in 'Water Features' started by andyslawncare, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Hey Everyone!

    We do a lot of drainage and dry creek beds, and I'm wanting to do a 'Wet creek bed' one of these days. I'm interested in photos or information containing anything like this. Usually my creek beds have a drain box-opposite start, meaning that all of the under ground drainage, including drain boxes, downspout drainage, etc enters the bed at some point by pressure on a grated drain exit. There is also natural drainage into these via slope of the property.

    I was thinking that some of our clients would like our creek beds to function in more than 2 ways.. right now, they function for drainage and for beauty; I want them to also function as constant waterfalls. Does anyone have experience in this?

    Currently my rate is around $800 per 35' dry creek bed at 3' wide. Would 50% more with a start up cost of $1500 make sense to make a dry creek bed into a 'wet creek bed'?

    Lets hear ideas for the potential!

    Attached is an example of a recent dry creek bed that we did.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  2. turner_landscaping

    turner_landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 187

    Where is the pic? Lol.. Have u ever built a pondless waterfall before? If you have the concept is easy just remember that you have to have an outlet discharge in the pit of the waterfall. I have built several of these over the years. I will be starting one actually n about a month or so I can post pics when completed.. The price though is all in how creative you want to be, here 1500 is a very small one though..
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  3. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,221

    Yep, need picture, more than one pic would be great. Hard to tell from your description exactly how your present systems are configured, but would probably require substantial modification to support a decent size waterfall & handle drainage.
  4. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    What you are describing is "rainwater harvesting'. It's not real practical in these parts because we get all of our rain in the winter, then nothing for 6-8 months. The basin would just fill up in Nov. and stay full through Apr./May then would go empty for the rest of the year. In climates with regular rain, folks will dig a very large basin and collect all of the runoff and use it for irrigation. The waterfeature keeps the water clean so it doesn't get stagnant. Kind of a cool idea.
    Like was mentioned earlier, if you dump runoff into the water feature, it will overflow and need to be drained off. As far as pricing goes, your price sounds way too low. The materials for the job you describe will be close to the $1500 mark. A pump is ~$300, vault is the same, you need a falls which is a couple hundred and liner for close to a hundred. Add in your gravel, pipe and labor and you will need a lot more than that. Our pondless systems start at $5,000 and go up from there. Sometimes we will offer a special with 10% off, but that is a long ways from the $1500 you mentioned. Water features are a luxury item and if you can do them properly and make them beautiful you can get good margins on them so don't ruin the market where you are by giving them away and remember that there are always hidden costs you don't think of at first - not to mention tools you will need.
  5. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    Check Aquascapes site RAINXCHANGE.COM for some ideas. The rain harvesting system that Mr. Vern was talking about is a neat concept, but it will take awhile to catch on around here. As far as irrigation goes it is only feasible to do a very small yard or just some landscape beds.
  6. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    STL - I agree on the small area. Although, I have considered if a guy could tie all of the runoff from irrigating into a large enough basin (perhaps under a driveway using the permeable pavers), then one could conceivably reduce water use by as much as 60% or more. The problem is the cost of such a system and the potential for maintenance issues, not to mention the contamination potential from washing vehicles, etc... Neat to think about though.
  7. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    I think you guys misunderstood my price idea... attached is a photo of how most of my creek beds look. It would be the current charge of 800 per 35' for the creek bed, then 50% added to it, and $1500 to get the basin and pump set up. This way I could do 35' for 2700; a 70' long for 3900. I guess a high volume pump may drive the cost up a little in materials. The only other labor would mainly be to construct the basin, use pond liner instead of fabric, and run the plumbing. I guess an option to use it if its dry or rainy would be to install a water line and a float valve.

    Most waterfalls I see around are more complex and require greater elevation drop. My pricing estimate here would include no water fall foam or large drops, etc...

  8. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    The rain exchange system is pretty cool. My initial ideas were not to use the water collected to use for irrigation, just to keep the stream alive at all times. It would certainly need a system in place to maintain its level with a water supply. I figured that since the basin will be under the last few feet of stones, the excess water from a rain storm would drain as it usually does.
  9. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    One challenge that immediately comes to mind when I look at the photo is flow rate. With cobble that large you are going to need significant flow in order to cover the rocks enough to even see the water. You might be surprised at how much water could flow down that without even being seen.
    One thing to consider might be to use a different mix of cobble. If you made a mixture with more small stuff ranging in the 3/8"-2-4" you would require a fraction of the flow that your current mix would require, and you would probably love the natural look and feel it creates.
    A basic calculation is 1" of water 1' wide requires 2400GPH. If those cobble are 4-6" and it looks to be a couple of feet wide, you could be looking at a very large pump.
  10. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    With large cobbles you run more of a chance of leaking in low edges by water bouncing off them and running over the sides. Build your side edges with this in mind on shallow runs.

    You still can build a small low type waterfall that looks like a spring popping out of the ground.

    You can get a 4200gph Big Frog pump from Anjon for a great price. The nice thing is they last!

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