Dry Streambed with River rock and boulders

How You Can Make a Rocking Dry Stream Bed in 5 Easy Steps

Jul 10, '20

How You Can Make a Rocking Dry Stream Bed in 5 Easy Steps

Here's How to Make a Rocking Dry Stream Bed

A dry stream bed is a wonderful way to control drainage and bring a beautiful natural element to your yard. Here's how to make a dry stream bed in 5 easy steps!

Grass isn't the most environmentally friendly thing you could grow in your yard. Every year, Americans use 3 trillion gallons of water and 200 million gallons of gas to water and mow their yards. Plus, grass isn't considered native to every yard across the nation.

That's why more and more Americans are moving away from the big expanses of grass and breaking up their yard with more natural, environmentally-friendly features like the dry stream bed or dry creek bed.

Dry stream beds are stone beds constructed into a stream-like shape. They create a gorgeous, organic look while helping to curb the damaging runoff that can pollute streams, lakes, and even our water supply. 

Read on to learn how to create your dry stream bed in five simple steps!

Step 1: Map Out Your Dry Stream Bed

One function of a dry stream bed is to redirect water that tends to pool in low areas of the yard. This is especially important if the pooling occurs near your foundation or a neighbor's property. After a rainfall, look for areas of the yard that are saturated and check for natural channels of water flow. 

The top half of your dry stream bed should follow the natural channel you've noticed. Because rainwater tends to head in that direction anyway, you can use your dry stream bed for drainage. The rocks will slow the flow of water, allowing it to saturate the ground below at a more even rate. 

If you do have any problematic pooling in your yard, divert the bottom of the dry stream bed away from this area. For this to be effective, your dry stream bed needs to follow a downward slope.

Design your dry stream bed with curves like the ones you'd find in a natural stream. For a more organic appearance, make some areas wider than others, particularly around any curves or bends. 

Once you have your design, recreate in your yard using two lengths of rope or two garden hoses. You can use landscapers paint to ensure that you follow the exact design you intended to.

Step 2: Dig Your Trench and Line It

To dig the trench, you want to remove 8" to 18" worth of soil, varying the depths as you go. The edges of your creek bed should never be deeper than the middle, or water will pool along the sides and create runoff. You can either slope the edges or create vertical sides, as long as they are tamped down.

Now it's time to cover your trench with landscape fabric. This fabric needs to be durable and thick. Do not replace it with a weed barrier, as this will not hold up well over the years.

Step 3: Use Gravel and Boulders for Extra Protection

For extra protection, you can cover the landscape fabric with a layer of landscaping gravel. This will hold the fabric in place and further slow the rainwater as it seeps into the ground below.  

Use several large boulders to delineate the path. Place them randomly along the edges, especially where the dry stream bed bulges or curves. Note that this is not a requirement but it can improve the look of your dry stream bed and help to hold the landscaping fabric in place if you have left some exposed folds along the edges.

Step 4: Fill With Landscaping Stones

Now comes the fun part! It is time to fill your dry stream bed with small and medium-sized round landscaping rocks. Sort through your collection of smooth stones to locate the largest of the bunch. Use these to create barriers along the edges, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain.

Fill in the rest of the area as desired! Rocks and stones of different shapes and colors tend to create the most natural look.

We suggest layering them rather than lining them up side by side. Not only does this look more organic but it creates a more effective irrigation system.

If you're looking to create feature areas, consider using a thick slate or other flat rock. Lay down a horizontal line of large, flat rocks along one area to create a visual "waterfall" effect. 

Step 5: Surround With Low-Growing Plant Life

Ready to bring life to your dry stream bed? Plant low-growing, wide-spreading plants along some of the edges so that your stream bed is incorporated fully into your landscaping.

Make sure to choose plants that are native to your area. If you get a lot of rainfall throughout the year, look for plants that need a lot of water and will benefit from your dry stream bed's ability to steadily saturate the ground. If you don't get a lot of rainfall, you're going to want to find drought-resistance plants that, as your new dry stream, function perfectly fine without water.

Are You Ready to Create Your Dry Stream Bed?

Fortunately, creating a gorgeous dry stream bed doesn't require a ton of tools or an advanced landscaping skill level. The most important thing is to find beautiful rocks and stones to fill it with! Online Stone Solutions is bringing top-quality landscaping rocks right to your home.

Browse through our full online store to find the perfect landscaping rocks for your next project. Not sure how many bags you'll need to purchase? You'll find our coverage calculator alongside each of our listings so you can guarantee that you're getting what you need.