Backyard Creek Ideas

Dry creek on green lawnOne of the loveliest things about our yard is the creek and waterfall.  The beauty and tranquility it creates is fabulous.  Now don’t get the wrong impression!  We do NOT have a large yard or one of those magnificent yards you see on BHG or HGTV!  What we do have, is a son with a talent for landscaping and some big equipment to do the job, AND a natural slope to our lot. However….you don’t need to have all that.  The natural slope is very helpful and it doesn’t have to slope a lot.  And even if you don’t have that there are some landscaping and grading tricks you can use to acquire the slope you need for a wonderful and natural looking creek.  (That is, if you think having a creek in the back yard of someone who lives in an urban subdivision natural).  But you know what I mean.

The trick is to use the natural slope of the ground, NOT to build a mountain or even a mole hill in the flat of your yard.  That is anything but natural looking.

Design the creek bed beginning at the top, level (or almost level) with your existing grade; digging deeper as you go toward the end.  You may have to dig deeper than you might think at first, but remember, you are going to add the pond liner and then fill it with river rocks so it won’t look as deep when the project is done.  You will use the dirt you are digging to form your ditch banks.

Basic materials you need are:

  • Shovels/picks depending on the soil you have.
  • Rocks – varying sizes from pebbles to 6-7 inch to boulder size, and river rock, depending on the look and the affordability you are after.
  • Pump kit (can be purchased from an aquatic & pond store)
  • Heavy pond liner (some experts suggest using carpet scraps to lay down before the pond liner)
  • Black foam (to be used to glue rocks in place and to divert water and seal leaks)
  • Receptacle (to hold retaining water)

When designing your creek, it’s a great idea to take some pictures of your favorite natural creek in the wild or a picture from a great website J.  Take notice of the banks, the way rocks are placed by nature, the plants that grow nearby; the fact that streams do not run in a straight line.  That is the most fun of all.  Creating!

When you think you have all in place and turn on the water for the first time, be prepared to be very disappointed!  The water will go everywhere but where you want it to.  That’s when some patience and work come into play.  The black foam (sold in nurseries, aquatic, stores, and even Lowes garden center) is your best friend.  You will begin to seal rocks together, seal underneath those you have stacked on one another, add some more over here to divert the water over there, and so on.  It will take you some time.  It took us about a week AFTER we thought the project was done, just to get the rocks in the right place.  Remember water runs downhill!  Your “downhill” needs to lead to the end of the creek, where, by the way your receptacle and pump will be with a pipe that runs back up under the ditch bank to the beginning of the creek.

As with any DIY project do some homework.  There are tons of resources out there. Have fun!

Backyard Creek Ideas creek in backyard 2

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