The street I live on dumps water onto my property. From roadside to backyard, the ground drops 8 feet, so when water hits my front yard, it begins a steady movement downhill. After watching water trickle a path through the cottage garden, I decided to build a dry creek (above) to catch and move runoff.
Before construction: Standing down-slope looking toward the street, you can see the path water followed. (Just follow the numbers below.)
Typically a dry creek bed should be at least twice as wide as it is deep. Using a hand pick, I dug a trench 4 inches deep by 8 inches wide. This is about the smallest size that will work effectively. I couldn't create a wider and deeper trench because I was working around established plantings.
Line the trench with landscape fabric, anchoring fabric edges with landscape pins.
Here's the lined creek bed, before adding pebbles. It really meanders like a stream!
Small stones move water best. Lay a bag of pebbles in the trench, cut the bottom, and lift to dump stones.
Now the creek is really starting to take shape.
Note that you want turns wide and gentle so water won't spill out of the creek.
For a finishing touch line creek edges with larger stones. Tuck smaller stones around larger ones to create a natural look. You'll need more large, flat stones to line a bigger creek.
My dry creek runs 20 feet, ending where the slope starts a steep drop. The stream finishes with pebbles spilling into mulch.
If you have problems with water entering your basement, don't construct a dry creek near your foundation unless you add underground drainage first. Last year, as part of a foundation repair, I installed a French drain system to move water away from the house. Runoff from the dry creek enters that system. If you're dealing with runoff on an existing slope, consider a dry creek. It's an effective, low-cost solution. I spent roughly $50 on materials, and it took me about a day to build.
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