A dry stream bed can be an attractive and functional garden asset.  While yard size will dictate its scale, your imagination will determine how the steam can accent your landscape.  If you have a back yard where drainage is a problem after heavy rains, you can design a feature that stops the rain from pooling, and even keeps the mulch on beds from washing away.

Though primarily used to redirect heavy rainfall, adding stepping stones down the centre will also make a lovely winding path through a narrow garden.  Incorporate a bench or a bridge into your design to make the dry stream an even stronger focal point.  It’s also a great way to add variety and interest to your landscape and showcase specimen plants.  You can place selected species along the edges; plants that spread will add softness to its edges.

However you decide to create your dry stream bed, it’s important to make it look as though it naturally belongs in your garden by using curves, varying its width and adding assorted stone sizes.

If you are building your dry stream to control runoff, start by making sure your grade is correct by following your yard’s natural drainage pattern.  The rainwater must flow away from your house foundation.  Dig a trench and run water through the trench with a hose to check that any rainfall will flow properly and not pool.  Adjust the depth of your trench accordingly.

To keep weeds at bay and grass from growing up between the rocks, lay landscape fabric on the bottom of the trench.  If you want all the water to flow along the stream, rather than have some absorbed into the garden, use a plastic, non-porous material instead, such as pool or pond lining.  Hold the material in place with rocks as you are laying it down.

Put in large stones first.  The largest rocks should be placed at the start of the stream to simulate a waterfall.  For a natural look, partially bury some of the big stones in the soil rather than just sitting them on the surface.

Lastly, line the sides of the trench with large and medium sized rocks.  Use pea gravel down the centre.  Using worn-looking stones of varying sizes is the key to making your stream bed look a though it were built by nature.  Gentle curves will help slow the flow of water.

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