Create a Dry Creek Bed in Your Garden

How and Why to create a dry creek bed in your garden. Erosion is a landscape killer. It strips topsoil and leaves ugly, bare patches in your garden. It can also harm the foundation of your home. But the great news is that dry creek beds are a beautiful way to solve your erosion problems. Let us show you how!

beautiful creek bed

We get asked all the time: why does erosion happen? A main reason is simply because water flows downhill. The steeper and longer a slope, the faster water travels. If there is nothing to slow it down, like rocks or healthy vegetation, the flowing water will eventually take everything with it, including top soil and sparse plantings. Then the next time it rains, there is even less vegetation to slow the water, so the erosion gets worse and worse.

We’ve all seen erosion like the kind pictured below. Trees blocked the sunlight and gradually killed the grass underneath. As the grass disappeared, rainfall began washing topsoil away, making it harder for grass to grow and worsening the erosion.

Eroded Clearing Erosion is common—but preventable!

Fortunately, you can manage erosion in your landscape with a dry creek bed.

A dry creek bed is an artificial stream that controls the water falling on your landscape. Like a real stream, the best dry creek beds follow the contours of your land, collect rain water, and move it gently away. They’re also incredibly beautiful.

Here is how dry creek beds work. In the example below you can see how water, flowing down a very gentle slope, has begun carving a path along the edge of the garden bed.

eroding garden bed Notice the deposited twigs and debris.

To fix this problem, we installed a simple dry creek bed to collect and direct the rainwater.

garden bed with creek installed Much Better!

Here’s another beauty we created. The flowing water is slowed by the creek bed’s gently winding course and by its large variety of stones. This bed also created an opportunity for us to put in some handsome stone steps.

Gently winding creek with steps Gently winding creek with steps.

The best dry creek beds are serpentine and feature a wide variety of stone sizes. This helps slow down water flow. Line your creek bed with lush ferns, mosses, and other plantings—just use your imagination!

Here’s a quick installation how-to:

  1. Dig a ditch that is at least 12 inches deep and 12 to 36 inches wide. Vary the width just like a natural stream.
  2. Make sure to direct the stream downhill.
  3. If you’re managing a great deal of water, install a perforated drain pipe underneath the ditch. Use a sock (available at garden centers) to surround the drain pipe. The perforated pipe collects the water, and the sock keeps dirt out of the pipe.drain pipe with sock
  4. Create a curving, natural-looking stream—not a straight line.
  5. Vary the stone sizes.
  6. Add plants to soften the rocks and create a balanced look.

When you’re ready to go, contact the pros at Art of Stone for help in the local north Georgia area. We’ll help you create the perfect creek bed for your landscape.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of gardening and stonework tips from our blog. You may unsubscribe at any time and we will not add you to any other mailing list.