How To Build a Dry Creek

Dry creeks are an attractive and efficient way of improving drainage in a landscape. If a landscape is sloped, water can flow excessively into walkways, driveways, streets and other undesirable areas. Dry creeks facilitate sustainable water diversion and prevent complications of flooding.

Follow these steps to create a beautiful dry creek:

Step 1: Choose the placement of the dry creek. The dry creek should take a curvy course down a sloped portion of your landscape leading run-off water away from troublesome areas, towards plants or your drainage system. Keep in mind that dry creeks are usually twice as wide as they are deep when plotting out the area of your dry creek.

Step 2: Dig your dry creek. Following the 2:1 depth and width ratio above, dig your dry creek trench and mound the soil on the sides of the creek bed to create walls around the bed. These walls are called berms, and will ensure that water remains in your rain garden during a storm instead of flooding the rest of your landscape. Stomp the berms firmly down to ensure the walls are sturdy.

Step 3: When the trench is the size you would like it, place landscape fabric along the creek bed and its walls. Anchor the landscape fabric with fabric pins or garden staples.

Step 4: Place stones in your dry creek. Use rocks of various shapes and sizes in the creek bed. Larger stones should be placed on the sides of the trench and small stones in the middle of the trench to encourage water flow through the middle of the dry creek.

Step 5: Beautify the dry creek. To prevent the soil walls around the creek bed from eroding, plant native shrubs and plants with strong root systems.


Helpful Tips:

  1. At the beginning of each rainy season check the stones in the dry creek bed to ensure that water can still freely pass between them. Remove any trash or debris from the creek bed in necessary.
  2. Water your plants regularly for the first 90 days and in times of drought to ensure their root systems grow into sturdy anchors for the dry creek walls.

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