Creating a Dry Creek Bed - Intro Project

Still a work in progress...
Suddenly it seems I'm in the middle of a dry creek bed project.

It all began when I noticed rain water was pooling in the succulent bed, next to the Country Mouse House.  Not good for succulents. So I thought I could dig drainage channels and line them with river rocks.

A friend gave us lots and lots of river rocks like these

We have an abundance of river rocks, thanks to a friend who wanted rid of them from around her trees, two years ago this month.

Our friend learned that placing rocks around a tree like this is not good for the tree. She offered us all the lovely river rocks!

First I dug some channels around the succulents to provide drainage

When digging the channels, I just looked for gaps between plants, and made sure the channels sloped down.

I didn't use weed cloth - I'll just deal with the weeds. I'm already dealing with the weeds so I don't think it'll be much different. I dislike weed cloth because I've inherited old and disintegrating weed cloth that emerged in tatters, in past gardens. Your experience may differ. I duly note, however, that use of weed cloth is recommended on all web sites that give instructions for dry creek beds.

Also I think using weed cloth would stop me tinkering. I love to tinker.

Then I started filling in with the rocks

The shape of the creek is a sort of Y. In the fork of the Y I'll probably put a bird bath. For now I've put an interesting pot there. (You can see it from above in the next photo.) And the "headwaters" might need some finishing work.

I'm not sure if I'm done. I may add and remove things here and there. I have stepping stones around the creek bed too, and might move some of them around. I like to let things evolve. This is my first effort. I don't expect perfection. But I did have a heck of a lot of fun.

Bird's eye view

Hm. I thought. Why stop here? I bet I have enough stones to take the creek across the garden to the chaparral slope! Tune in next time for the main post on creating a dry creek bed, including how to make its meanders more realistic.

Meantime, why not visit the Can you explain the whole dry creek thing to me? post that Ms Town Mouse wrote in the spring of 2010 - it's one of our all-time favorite posts. Ms T presents the benefits of a dry creek in the garden, and shows photos of the wonderful dry creeks in her own garden.


Brent said…
I think that weed cloth is always recommended not so much to prevent weeds from growing but more to separate the soil from the stones and prevent the drainage from filling in. It's used in French drains for a similar reason.

That said, I wouldn't use it either for the same reason as you.
Country Mouse said…
Oh, of course - that makes sense! Here on the ridge we have very sandy soil - the puddling in the succulents stays around a while because bedrock is not far below - but drainage is generally fast on our property. Mixing sandy soil with stones - not such a concern for us. Different for those with clay feet! ...
Alison said…
I'm in the middle of putting a dry creek into one of my garden beds too. Kudos to you on putting one in! I wouldn't use weedcloth either, I had the same problem as you with it when we moved in here. They also had used river stones as mulch in a lot of beds, so I've been using that stuff up. I'm only half-done, I took a break when winter came.
Jason said…
That looks great! I love the stones!
Diana Studer said…
We've made swales. Just dug hollows, planted bog-lovers. Fills with rain in winter, and is dry now. I'm 'allergic' to weed cloth, it always shows a bit, and the weeds grow above, from underneath, and the really devious ones right thru. Much easier to weed, without the roots tangling in the 'barrier',