Dry creek beds are lovely features to add to any landscape and, with some time and foresight, are fairly easy to install on your own. Besides the aesthetic value of this waterless feature, if you have a property with drainage issues, installing a dry creek bed can help reduce that problem. This home improvement project will require a lot of stone of varying sizes and a lot of heavy lifting and shoveling.
Let’s get started!
1. Plan and delineate the shape of your creek bed. Be sure that it meanders a bit to keep it looking natural. It can be difficult to create a natural looking creek that just starts out of nowhere so think about having it begin and end behind a shrub or a large boulder. In terms of the size, the bed should be about twice as wide as it is deep.
2. Dig out the soil in the bed; you could rototill first to loosen up the soil if there are a lot of roots to contend with. Once you’re done excavating, tamp down the bottom of the creek bed. Since you are, in essence, creating a trench, the soil that you dig out should be mounded along the sides of the bed as you go.
3. Lay heavy-duty landscape fabric along the whole length of the creek bed, including the mounds along the sides. This will reduce weeds from growing in your creek. The landscape fabric can be covered with a thin layer of gravel to keep it in place or pinned down with special fabric pins.
4. Now comes the fun part! It’s time to start placing the rocks. Start with larger stones along the edges of the dry creek bed. Place river rock of varying sizes from 3.5” to 2.5” and even 1” the whole length of the creek bed. Think about having the largest of the river rock at the bottom, remember, it has to look like nature placed the stones and that they could have tumbled into place naturally. Finally, fill in the spaces with pea gravel.
5. You can finish off your dry creek bed by adding in boulder or two, some weathered logs or even a small wooden bridge that spans the creek. You can also put some plants in along the edges. These finishing touches are what will turn your creek into a beautiful focal point of the yard.
Remember, this is a work in progress; it takes nature decades to create stream beds. You can go back and move rocks around, add a few more stones or make whatever changes you need to as your creek evolves.
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