Dry Creek Bed Landscape Ideas

This project can be used to beautify any property. All you need is the delivery of some river rock type stones and maybe some stones already on your property in most cases. A little creative rock placement will get you a unique landscape feature. So in this post I will examine some dry creek bed landscape ideas.

What is a dry creek bed ?

This is exactly what you think. It is a dried up running water source that exposes the underlying water worn rock features below. In this instance we are creating a simulation of a dry creek bed on our properties. The results can be quite beautiful and open up the surrounding site to creative showcasing of your plants or other outside ornaments.dry-creek-bed-landscape- ideas

River rocks have been used for many years in place of mulch type items in planting areas and such. They are a very easy to maintain feature. Just a little leaf blower cleaning, on occasion will keep them looking fresh and new.

In creating these features we will want to keep it looking as close to natural as possible for the best effect. Slight twists and turns, just not too many, are the first lay out features. Placing larger, craggy rocks in key areas throughout the feature create a very realistic display.

This project can be accomplished by most anyone with a little ambition and breaking out a bit of elbow grease.

Where can I put my dry creek bed ?

This is a project which I can truly say will be at home on anybody’s property. It can be placed on any type of terrain be it hilly or flat. Unlike the water feature projects of the past where waterfalls, ponds and fountains were used to create interesting landscape designs this feature is water less. None the less, it still projects the presence of water realistically.

You will not need any pumps or water source to create a very awe-inspiring conversation piece here. You should plan for the ability of water to flow freely through and away from your project to prevent issues with pooling stagnant water which will detract from your site for sure.

A very good place to use one of these features is bordering a planting bed that is slightly elevated from the surrounding terrain. The placement of large rocks and boulders haphazardly along the raised planter edge to contain the earth create a very real effect.

A narrow side yard is usually difficult to spruce up. Not with a dry creek bed. With the river rock bed and creatively placed large flat stones one can create access through a narrow side yard with a unique beauty.dry-creek-bed-landscape-ideas

Plants are a great way to add to the “realness” of the dry creek bed. Pick native plants that do well and lend themselves to the authenticity of your site. Use plants such as ferns, hosta and rhododendrons along your creek’s upper banks. They will lean in over your bed and look great.

You are creating a channel through which water can and maybe you want to flow. This project can be used to drain water away from areas you do not wish for it to collect in. It is important that in laying out these projects that you assure that any water that can find its way to your bed will be channeled away to an area you have predetermined. This should be an area from which the water can freely exit without pooling.

The Basics of building a Dry Creek Bed

First of course is to choose your location. A dry creek bed can be placed anywhere, but you should avoid, extremely flat and level areas. In any location you need to create a high end from which water can flow from and a low end where water will flow to. It should be possible for any water that finds its way to your site to be able to flow freely and escape from the low end.

To start the lay out, I usually place two garden hoses in the proposed area and form them to my envisioned shape of my bed. It is important to make it look natural. Take cues from nature here to see how the real deal looks and flows. Try to keep the edges of your bed from being too steep. After you get your desired shape , mark the edges formed by the hoses with paint.dry-creekbed-layout

In most instances you will have to remove some earth from the area of your dry creek bed. You do not wish to just place piles of rocks on top of the ground. Stream beds carve themselves into the earth from the erosive effects of flowing water. The most successful final results will be achieved if you follow this lead.

Place Large stones first

Once you have etched the shape of your design into the earth it is time to place your larger stone features. Again place them naturally. Large rocks will alter the course of water so place the largest stones on bends in your design that would cause water to flow around them. I do not like to overly use large stones. A few well-placed boulders will make a much more impressive look than a crowded field of large stones in most instances.

Next Item is landscape fabric. Place the fabric all along the prepared creek bed, cutting it around the large stones. Start from the lower end and work towards the higher end. Lap the higher pieces of fabric over the lower pieces by at least 1 foot. Make sure the fabric lines all areas where you will be placing the smaller river rock stone.



Your creek bed may have steep banks. If this is the case, you may not be able to keep the smaller river rock from sliding down and you should try to remedy this by placing more large stones in these areas.

Once the landscape fabric is in you can begin to place your small river rock stones. I like to use a variety of sizes to keep the look as natural as possible. This is really up to each individual though because here you should create what ever pleases your tastes.

Finish with plants and ornaments

This part can and should be a work that evolves over time. Start out with natural looking plants along your creek bed banks. The use of plants along the bank that overhang some into the creek bed create realism. Plant focal point shrubs, trees, and other plants just outside your creek banks in creative locations along the route because they will surely add a nice touch.

Place other outdoor features in select spaces near your dry bed, such as fountains and bird feeders. Just do not go too crazy as to make it overbearing.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor

This is not really as hard of a project to complete as you might expect. I’m sure with just a little sweat you will be quite pleased with your finished product. Have any of you ever tackled a project like this before? I would love to hear your comments. Please leave any you may have below.

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