Just another WordPress site

Designing Dry Creek or River Rock Bed Landscaping

If you have heard the words “designated drainage easement” before, then this article is for you. In the urban areas where the roads, rooftops and other impervious surfaces make the water change its natural course, the issue of drainage is always an important one. Though the pipes, swales and catch basins solve the problem they don’t add anything to landscape looks.

There is one elegant solution for this – creating a dry creek bed on your land. While leading the excess water where you’d like it to go, it also brings a nice decorative touch.


Preparation stage

Making a fake river bed in your garden may sound like a complicated engineering task, but in reality it’s quite a simple project, which requires just quite a lot of physical effort, depending on the size of the creek you need.

Preparation stage of designing Dry Creek bedTo do the river rock bed landscaping you should have:

  • landscape paint (or something else for marking the area);
  • landscape fabric;
  • garden staples;
  • shovel;
  • tool for tamping;
  • river rocks, boulders, pea gravel.


Let’s go through this step by step. So, that’s how you create your stream:

  • First you need to decide on shape of your future river. Making it straight is not the best idea as it will only underline its fakeness. Make it more natural adding couple of curves.
  • To make it even more realistic, make, if possible, a small disguise for its start. The best is to hide the pipe it’s taking its course from behind a large boulder, or create the impression that the river bends from behind some bush.
  • You also have to take care of where you lead the excess waters. Check with your local authorities if you’re allowed to simply lead it toward the street, otherwise channel it to the less troublesome place on your land, such as sandy soil area or pond.
Important! If your public works department allows you to redirect the water towards the street get an official paper, so you never have problems in future if they suddenly change their mind.
  • Now to the dry creek itself. You decide yourself how wide or deep you’d like it to be. The general advice is to make is approximately 2:1 width/depth ratio.
  • Detailed instruction

  • Now here is the hardest part – pure and honest muscle work. Hopefully you have nice and soft soil in your garden, otherwise sheer digging can take a lot of time, but once it’s done its done and so the hardest part with it.
  • After the whole trench is finished you need to place the landscaping fabric on the whole length of the creek, keep it in place with garden staples. If you have any special chemicals to pretreat the soil against the weeds this will be even better. Combination of those two methods will help you to have no problems with unnecessary vegetation later.
  • And now the fun part. The rock and other decoration. If you don’t have a very steep slope on our land that you don’t need to use mortar for keeping the rocks in place, it can make your drainage system not as good as it can be.

    So simply start with the pea gravel to cover the base of your dry creek. Than place the bigger river rocks the way they would be laying in the creek of the natural stream, slightly on the sides. And the last touch is to add big boulders, that will channel the waters and also attract the biggest attention (tip: basics of installing river rocks).

  • Now everything depends on how ambitious are you. Plant some flowers, add a landscape bridge – there are plenty of ideas out there. Explore them!

That’s it, quite simple isn’t it? The dry creek doesn’t require a lot of attendance, the rocks don’t need a replacement and weeds should not be appearing if initially all was done right. But always when there is water involved, there is a chance of the rocks turning green.

Here are few tips for cleaning the rocks in you riverbed:

  1. Use the vinegar solution and hard brush to clean the boulders from any green touch.
  2. Use the garden hose without the nozzle to move the fallen leaves and other debris downstream without pushing away the smallest rocks.
  3. If one day you wish to do the proper cleanup of the small rocks – collect them portion by portion in buckets and wash them through with clean water. You can add a bit of bleach in the water if the rocks look stained.


In this section you will find some pictures that present simple Dry Creek Bed designs:
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6

Video tutorial

This video will explain you how to install river rock landscaping dry creek bed:

This articles can be useful for you: pool landscaping with river rocks, how to use river rock and concepts of using this rock in front yard landscaping.


Creating the dry creek on your land is a perfect drainage solution, but even if you don’t have any trouble with waters in your garden you still can make it just for the beauty of it. We hope, that this article was useful for you and you know how to create river rock landscaping dry creek bed.

No comments

Thank you! Your comments will appear after review.
Add cooments