Swimming Pool Waterfalls (Design Ideas)

Here’s our guide to swimming pool waterfalls showcasing custom designs and ideas for your home’s backyard.

Cabana with lighted pool at dusk

Pools, by itself, instantly upgrade both the value & the aesthetics of a property. Adding any type of waterfall feature to your pools can make it even more appealing. They definitely add an aesthetic upgrade to any basic pool, no matter the size. Waterfall features are definitely a sensory experience – the sound it makes, its beauty & motion, the feel of the water, and its ripples. It all comes together to create a focal point in your home.

Some simple things to consider when designing your pool are:

  1. Budget
  2. Architectural style of the house/building
  3. Proportion & layout

For the Chinese & other Feng Shui believers, pools, when well-designed and well-placed, could bring wealth and energy to your home. If water is kept still, however, it traps energy, so it is recommended to keep it flowing to help circulate positive chi. One of the ways to achieve that is by adding waterfalls. Not only does it look good & keep the water flowing, but the sound of the water makes the space feel more lively and, at the same time, relaxing.

Swimming Pool with Artificial Waterfall Designs

Lagoon infinity pool, waterfall style design and fire pitsThere are many types of waterfall features for swimming pools. But we can break it down into these categories:

Rock/Natural waterfalls – this type mimics naturally occurring waterfalls, as it uses elements & materials that closely resemble real falls. This can be made from natural materials, artificial materials, or a combination of both. Custom-made rock waterfalls can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 (excluding installation cost) on average and up $30,000 or higher for larger and more complicated designs. Pre-made DIY waterfall kits can also be bought for $450 up to around $3,500.

Cascade / Sheet waterfalls – these are usually installed on walls or accent walls beside pools, using a narrow horizontal water spout, creating a thin, straight stream of water. If you want a more modern design, then this type would be more appropriate than the natural waterfalls. A professionally installed cascading fall would range from $250 to $5,000, depending on size and design complexity.

Water wall – unlike sheer waterfalls where the water flows outward from the wall, water walls flow along the walls (or sometimes, glass and other materials) and flow into the pool. This produces a gorgeous yet subtle water feature perfect for modern designs. The cost average would be around the same as cascade waterfalls.

Water curtain – water curtains usually use spouts that resemble an oversized faucet. It produces straight, curtain-like streams and is usually placed on the sides and edges, allowing you to use it to engulf your head in water.

Rainfall curtain – this type produces a wall of water droplets mimicking real rain. These are often installed on horizontal beams or pipes placed above the pools.

Water spouts/scupper/sconces (decorative) – these are also attached on a wall, but instead of long horizontal spouts, it uses normal-sized spouts in a variety of shapes and sizes. These are inexpensive and relatively easy to install.

Spillovers – usually found on multi-level pools. Inground pools (that have a higher elevation)  would continuously spill over the lower area through a spout or a small indent and then be pumped back into the elevated area. These are often applied on attached kiddie pools, spas, or jacuzzi.

Vase Fountain / Water Bowl – instead of using spouts or wall openings, this type uses large ceramic or concrete bowls placed on an elevated area, in which the water spills from the bowl and into the structure.

Rock/Column Fountain – this is actually similar to a water wall, but instead of a wall, rocks or concrete columns are used. The water spills out from a small opening at the topmost portion of the rock and engulfs the rock/column.

There are many other types of water features you can add to your design, and it will all depend on the look you’re going for and, of course, the budget.

Some other common popular features of pools are:

  • Deck Jet or Fountain Spitter – this is installed on the deck area and shoots a thin arc of water. This is very common and relatively inexpensive
  • Slides – kids and adults both love water slides. There are many custom and ready-made options you can find.
  • Jets and Bubblers – this water feature shoots out water from the inside.

Rectangular pool and spa with stone accent wall and waterfallsFor this small backyard pool area, not only do the small shortfalls serve as a decorative element, but they also add more privacy to the space because of the high retaining wall blocking the view from behind the fence. Black slate tile finish gives it a sleek & modern look that matches the overall feel of the space.

Pool Waterfall Kits

If you think adding waterfalls to your swimming area is too expensive, there are already many waterfall kits available on the market. These DIY kits are prefabricated waterfalls with a complete set of materials and manuals, so you can easily install them on your own at half the price of custom waterfalls. On average, waterfall kits could cost around $500 to $3,500, depending on size and design. Here are some of the common types of waterfalls with kits you can find on the market:

  • Rock waterfalls
  • Fountain waterfall
  • Cascading falls
  • Vase fountains
  • Retaining wall waterfalls

Suppose you have a certain design on your mind that is not common on complete waterfall kits, and you have access to materials, time, knowledge, and skills to DIY your waterfalls. In that case, you can instead buy kits that only include pumps and other basic machines and materials you need to achieve your dream waterfalls for pools.

Water fountain kit for poolsSwimming pool waterfall spout – See at Amazon

This is a stainless steel water curtain spout attached to the deck, with a very simple and clean modern design. You can simply install a few of these around your pool, and it will instantly give it more life.

Pool sheet waterfall kitDIY Pool Sheet Waterfall – See at Amazon

This is an example of sheet waterfalls installed on a low wall at the pool’s edge. It creates a nice and clean sheet of water that seems to gush out from inside the wall because of the very low profile spout it uses. This type of waterfall can be custom-made, DIY, or even bought as a kit. This is perfect for simpler designs and for smaller spaces.

DIY Pool Waterfalls

Waterfall spillway kitHere’s an illustration of the popular types of waterfall flows one can choose, from a gentle trickle to a cascading watersheet. Prefab waterfalls come in an assortment of designs to compliment your backyard style, whether it be rustic or modern.

Closeup of waterfall spout design for poolsStainless steel waterfall spillway – See at Wayfair

The image above shows how the spout used for sheet waterfalls usually looks. They are commonly made of stainless steel and are inset on walls. Most of them are designed in a way that makes them almost invisible once installed. The type of waterfall it creates would depend on the water pump setting you choose.

Adding a waterfall will consist of creating a solid base and modifying the structure to accommodate the spillway spout. Some of the most popular structures used for a waterfall base include tile for a traditional style, stacked stone for a contemporary design, or loose river rock for a more natural look.

Pools with Waterfall Design Ideas

Waterfall curtain, granite flooring and dipping poolThis is a great application example of a rainfall curtain. Typical rainfall curtains would entail an additional “arc” structure placed above the structure, which can consume space and sometimes ruin the overall design. For this example, however, the feature was installed on an architectural element (in this case, decorative tubular metal eaves), resulting in a more visually amazing outcome.

Indoor lagoon pool with plantsWhat other water feature looks best with natural lagoon swimming pools, than a rock waterfall? A simple rock waterfall installation, along with added ferns and plants, gives more dimension and personality to the design.

Plunge pool with waterfall feature and fire pitsSince there isn’t much space available in this backyard, a simple sheet waterfall feature was attached to the property wall, making it a very subtle yet elegant water feature.

Oceanfront infinity pool with wood deckSheetfalls definitely match the rectilinear simplicity of infinity pools such as this example. The constant flow of the falls helps add more movement and life to the seemingly still waters.

Wood pergola anmd sheetwall type falls with three spoutsIf you’re not into massive waterfall installations or high-walled waterfalls, this is a great way to incorporate sheet falls into your design. This small sheet wall fall is only a little higher than the deck and was fixed with 3 horizontal spouts. The top of the waterfall feature has a flat tiled surface, which can also double as a platform for diving. Behind the water feature sits a wood pergola and outdoor fireplace, creating the perfect spot for relaxation.

Irregular shaped pool with blue pedestalsThis irregularly shaped pool has a series of column fountains in which water overflows onto its four sides. The columns appear to be grand pedestals, giving the look a grand effect, especially at night when lit.

Inground Pool Design with Waterfalls

Pool with tropical landscaping and stacked stone spa with waterfallsThis combines the best aspects of modern & classical design styles to create a unique look, taking inspiration from Mediterranean design elements. It uses natural stones & tiles to create the waterfall structure (which also serves as a walkway), but the stones used are already cut flat to give a more streamlined silhouette. At the end of the elevated “walkway” is a small round spa that has 3 deck sprays on its edges, which eventually trickle down to the tilted mini wall. The sides of the elevated walkway also have recessed-mounted horizontal spouts for variety.

Pool with two waterfall styles, pergola, spa and purple lightingThis is a combination of spillover falls and sheetwall falls. The walls built around 2 sides of the swimming area not only house the pipes for the falls but also act as a non-obstructive partition for privacy.

Pool with lighting, cut stone walkway and waterfallAnother Mediterranean-inspired pool, this design leans toward a cleaner, sleeker look. The waterfall feature is a simple spillover from the mini spa, and is further accentuated with some lighting.

Pool with vase fountain, stone wall and house with white columnsThe choice of water feature is based on its classical-inspired architectural design. Two walls with a vase fountain attached on top stand on each side of a slightly lower wall with discreet horizontal spouts. The spouts were installed side by side so that they created a wider sheet of water flowing into them.

Lap pool with blue mosaic tile wall and cascading waterThe small sheet waterfalls installed here enhance and match the modern, slim, and sleek design. The soft cascade of the sheet of water helps break the stiff look, which is a common tendency in modern designs.

Concrete pool with multiple waterfalls and palm treesConcrete is the main material of choice in this design. The deck and walls have a smooth gray concrete finish, giving it a unique look. The curvy design has a massive waterfall on one end, still made from concrete, and designed to create a giant ledge that can also serve as a small reprieve from the sun. The higher walls were also decorated with a series of wall spouts & sheetfall wall spouts.

Pool with downward tilting spout and slate tile wallThe spout for these sheet falls was tilted downwards to create a sharper-looking water sheet.

Pool cabana with pool and glass fenceInstead of a recessed-mounted sheet waterfall spout, a surface-mounted stainless steel spout was used in this modern design. A large Asian-style pool cabana provides a place to escape the sun for outdoor dining, while the wood pergola is perfect for relaxation.

Elevated spa pool with spillover to a bigger pool with green tilesMatching the Mediterranean theme of the garden, this design goes for more subtle and simple water features. A slightly elevated spa with a spillover was placed in between two wall spouts with lion’s headscones for a very balanced and symmetrical look.

Pool with roman style waterfallsThis is a Middle-Eastern-inspired design. It is reminiscent of grand mirror-like fountains like the Taj Mahal, but instead of a building, you see a mini spillover and an arched retaining wall with three wall spouts with floral sconces.

Semi circle waterfall design on poll and garden plantsFour swan-like water-curtain spots seem to camouflage themselves with the garden plants. Because this type of waterfalls requires less digging and hole-making, a water-curtain spout would be one of the easiest ways to incorporate waterfalls.

Pools with Slides and Waterfalls

Multilevel pool with spillover ledgeMulti-level pools are the best base for cascading spillover waterfalls. This example has a spillover ledge (for a sheet fall effect) and a waterfall spillover. The addition of landscaping and natural rocks around the area further enhances the ambiance.

Lagoon type pool with decorative rock wall and grottoThis tropical lagoon has a wide variety of water features. A large decorative rock wall showcases an assortment of waterfalls with a small grotto, while a waterslide winds through the rocks creating a fun environment for kids and teens alike.

Rock waterfall pool with tunnel slide, palm trees and mountain viewMatching the red rocky mountain background, this rock waterfall makes sure it uses materials/finishes similar to the mountain so that it blends well into the surroundings. The topmost rock was smoothed out to almost flat, creating a clean, sheet-like water flow. The addition of a tunnel slide hidden behind the faux rocks also adds a fun and novelty element to the space.

Pool Rock Waterfalls

Rock pool with large waterfalls and man-made caveThis is a great example of a well-executed rock fall. Instead of having only one cascade where the water flows down, the water seems to fall along the long span of rock arrangements in varying amounts of water flow. The topmost area has the strongest flow, and a man-made cave tunnel opening is right under the falls, making the water act as a “curtain entry” to the tunnel.

Custom stone rock feature in pool beside a patioThe ragged look and informal shape of the rock waterfalls give a nice contrast against the clean silhouette of the swimming area and the architecture. The sudden change of color and texture gives the design a better overall balance & depth.

Curved pool design with slide waterfall, grotto and hot tubCan’t decide between rock waterfalls & slides? Why not combine both like this example? The waterfalls were constructed using large pieces of natural stones set on a concrete base. A concrete slide was created to run on the left side behind the waterfalls.

Spill over feature from main pool to lower stone pool, plants and lounge chairsMost pools with waterfall features would have the waters into them, but this example lets the water spill over to a small lower water receptacle, which can serve as a footbath or simply a decorative element.

Water slide between two cascading fallsA small slide was placed in between two cascading rock waterfalls. This uses natural rocks that have been slightly sculpted & fixed together into the desired formation.

Stone stacked together on waterpool edgeUsing natural rocks, a low and subtle formation was arranged to create a mini rock waterfall on the side edges.

Pool with sheetfall and rock stone waterfall designsCombining both rock waterfalls and sheet falls using horizontal spouts can also create a very interesting outcome. One area has 2 waterfalls, which use an almost flat top surface to create a wide water trickle. Beside it is a slightly elevated mini spa, and on its sides, horizontal spouts were installed to keep the water in circulation.

Artificial Rock Water Fountain for Pools

Custom pool with faux rocks and adobe patioThis is a rather ambitious and massive natural rock waterfall. Instead of a cascade of rocks, it creates a beam-like structure from the faux rocks. The effect is similar to a rainfall curtain but has a more “random” trickle of water.

Lagoon style pool with access to patio, trees and house with balconyExcellent landscape design helps set the overall feel and look of the swimming area. It creates faux stones using concrete molded into irregular shapes. This features two upper mini pools on opposing ends, both with a spillover lip/indent.

Kidney shaped pool with attached jacuzziYou don’t always need to have a big & grand rock waterfall. A small rock waterfall kit can create a basic rock waterfall installation like in this example.

Trees and plants framing the tropical styled pool with cascading waterfall add-on designThe excellent landscape design definitely helps enhance the overall look of this pool-like lagoon.  For large lagoon pools, a waterfall helps keep the water flowing & moving, avoiding stagnant water, which can be a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. This design features plants densely arranged in a way that looks wild & natural. The plant seems to frame the high rock waterfalls, which uses dark-colored stones to give them even more depth.


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