DIY Dry Creek Beds


If you want to make a dramatic statement in your garden, without a lot of maintenence, a DIY dry creek bed is the way to go. It gives your yard a natural feel, without having to manage a real water feature. And they are surprisingly easy to DIY, but still have a professional look to the finished project.  They are great options for an area that doesn’t drain well, has poor soil, or perhaps has an easement. A few tips to keep in mind?

  • The creek or stream bed should meander naturally, never in a straight line.
  • Add larger boulders at turns in the creek bed for drama.
  • Vary the size of the rock in your creek bed.
  • Anchor the “banks” of your creek bed with plants.
  • Choose rock that looks natural for your region.


Let’s start with a tutorial on the basics, how to build a dry creek bed, by BHG.


DIY Dry Creek Beds


Fine Gardening also has a great tutorial on making a dry stream bed, but to get to the actual directions, you need to go to page 3 in their post. The first two pages has good information though, so take a peek.



‘Pink and Green Mama’ did an entire backyard makeover, and they have a DIY dry river bed to cover a drainage problem… Read about how they did it!



My Weeds are Very Sorry‘ has a lot of great tips on stone placement, and how much is enough. (And what is too much!) Good advice on getting a professional look.



Ok, now on to the inspiration. These don’t have tutorials, (you don’t need them now anyway, you got the basics above!) but they have great ideas for us to.. ahem… steal. :) This dry stream bed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools was brought to us by ‘Serenity in the Garden‘.

web Jan Johnsen Dry Stream  4


Again from ‘Serenity’, this is a dry stream bed in the backyard of Jan Johnsen… Love the black rocks! This was done in a small backyard for all of you who think you don’t have enough space.



Lastly, from ‘Sharons Scrapbook’, this dry creek bed is a great example of lining the “bank” with plants.


Image Credits: Houzz, BHG, Fine Gardening, Pink and Green Mama, My Weeds are Very Sorry, Serenity in the Garden, Sharons Scrapbook




  1. A definite must for my yard

  2. Thanks for this great post!

  3. I made a dry bed and love it! However, does anyone have any good suggestions on how to keep or clean oak leaves out of the bed during the fall? I have about four oak trees around the dry bed and they drop enough leaves to cover the entire bed. I could put out a large tarp and cover the bed (anchor the tarp down) but didn’t know if anyone had some easier tips. I do use a leaf blower to push back what I can as well. Thank you for any advise. :)

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      We use a shop vac to suck up leaves from around a prickly cactus, wonder if that would work for you?

    • I once read an article about someone who had a large collection of mosses in his garden, and he put netting over them in the fall, which allowed him to pick up all the leaves at once without damaging the moss. Might work for a dry creekbed too. I’m thinking of trying a leaf blower myself, though around here the leaves always fall with tons of rain, so they don’t blow away very easily. Removing leaves and debris is a must, though, because otherwise they would compost and create soil in among your rocks and then you’d have weeds all over within a year or two.

    • Tammy Knutson says:

      We had a pond at our last home and would bend pvc pipes over it with rebar in the ground to hold them and put netting over it. Being raised helped push the leaves away and made SPRING cleaning a snap. This could work in gardens too!

  4. Beautiful options! Looking forward to building a Dry Creek Bed in my yard!

  5. Thanks Kathy! I love what you said about my dry stream and enjoy reading your posts!
    Jan Johnsen

  6. hello,
    I love ur idea’s & pics! I moved to a house that has a 3/4 acre for a back yard, im thinking of doin a peanut shaped somewhat dry creak bed with a bridge & a few plants in the spring of 17….
    wish me luck! <3

  7. Great post Kathy! Thanks for sharing.

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