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Dry Creek Bed for Drainage

Rimlee Bhuyan Feb 8, 2019
Drainage problems in your garden can spoil your lawn or cause problems to the foundation of your house. Although there are several drainage solutions for a yard, not all of them work. A dry creek works well if you are looking to channel water away from a particular spot.
Water stagnating in your yard or garden not only looks bad, but can also potentially harm the foundation of your house. You will face these problems especially if your house does not have a good drainage system. Apart from a soggy garden, this water can seep through the ground and cause damage to the foundation and structure of your house.
This problem is further compounded if your property is constructed on a sloped area. There are many ways in which you can reroute this water from your yard. Installing a French drain or laying underground pipes are two of the best options. However, both are labor intensive and require extensive digging.
A relatively simpler solution is a dry creek bed, as it is not very difficult to install and can become a component of your landscaping.

Installation Process

Installing a dry creek bed is not very difficult. However, before purchasing the required supplies, you will need to plan its route. It is best to make the course a meandering and curved one, to make it look natural. It should suit your landscape. It should ideally start from a higher point and travel in a downward direction.
Another very important point to consider is the ultimate exit point of the redirected water. You cannot install a dry creek that exits into your neighbor's property, unless you want a lawsuit on your hands. The best solution is to reroute it into a dry well, where it will percolate slowly into the ground.
Once you have decided on an exit point for the water and designed a course for the creek bed, you can start installing it.

Things required

  • Landscape fabric
  • River rocks or pebbles
  • Landscaper's paint
  • Large shovel
  • Mortar
  • River boulders
  • Garden staples


First, mark the course of the creek bed using the landscaper's paint. Dig along the marked course with the shovel. If the soil is compact and contains small pebbles and rocks, you will need to use a smaller shovel to remove them.
Dry creeks are traditionally more wide than they are deep, and a good ratio to follow while digging is 2:1. For example, if the width of the dry creek is 3 inches, then the depth should be 1½ inch. Digging the entire course will take up a better part of the day depending on the size of your yard and its terrain.
Once you have dug the trench, lay the landscape fabric over it. Use the garden staples on both sides of the trench to hold the fabric taut over it. Apply a thick layer of mortar over a section of the fabric, and then place some river rocks on it.
As mortar dries quickly, apply it in small sections and work fast. When the whole trench is lined with river rocks, scatter some pebbles in the center of the trench to fill it. Small, round river rocks can be used for the center, and rocks and boulders can be at the edges to make it artistic.
This completes the installation of the dry creek bed. To give it a natural look, plant some ornamental grass, bushes, and shrubs along its course. This helps soften its look and makes your garden appear more attractive.
A dry creek bed is an excellent choice for channeling rainwater or standing water from your property. You can even make it the focal point of your garden or backyard, and design your garden around it. It is an excellent and efficient landscape drainage solution.