Dry Creek Beds

Wow!  Your landscaping is looking fantastic!  The plants are happy in their rich soil, their roots are protected from voles and a nice blanket of mulch is keeping the weeds away.  Now you get a soaker of a rainfall and you discover a new stream running through your yard, eroding away the soil and mulch in its path!  Join WBTV meteorologist Jim Lytle and Blue Max Materials' president Mike Bishop to see if incorporating a dry creek bed into your landscape is a solution for you.

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Your problem may be as simple as mulch washing away under the downspouts of your gutters or as extreme as a rushing creek rampaging through your yard, but in either situation, the erosion caused by the water messes up the look of your landscaping.  No one likes to see their hard work or money washing away, so it's important to investigate ways of handling the water.

One possibility for solving the problem is installing a dry creek bed.  In its simplest terms, a dry creek bed involves laying out rock to act as a buffer between water and your soil or mulch.  During rains, the rocks absorb the force of the moving water, slowing it down and preventing erosion.  In dry spells, the dry creek bed adds a unique, attractive feature to your landscape.

Dry creek bed using Alabama Brown Oversize river rock.

Dry creek bed made with NE River Jacks lines with small Cane Creek Boulders.

The concept of a dry creek bed is simple:

  • 1. Determine where the water runs in your yard. Oftentimes this is obvious based on the washed away mulch!
  • 2. Clear the area of loose material. If it doesn't already exist, shallow out a "v" down the center of your new creek bed to channel the water where you want it to go.
  • 3. Lay down landscape fabric to prevent future weed growth. Make sure the fabric you select readily allows water to flow through to the ground underneath.
  • 4. Select stones to line your creek bed. Usually people select a river rock to simulate a natural creek bed. The size of the stones is important - too small and they will wash away in a hard rain, too large and they'll serve as more of a dam than a creek bed. In most applications, a 1" - 3" or a 3" - 5" size range is appropriate.
  • 5. Lay the selected stones over the landscape fabric, maintaining the shallow "v" shape for channeling water.
  • 6. Now, when it rains, watch the water dance over the rocks without washing away your mulch or soil!

Dry creek bed using various sizes of NE River Jacks and boulders.

Please note, if you have a "river" running through your yard, it may be wise to contact a professional contractor or landscaper to assist with your dry creek bed.  In this case, additional factors that are beyond the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers should be considered; for example, large equipment may be needed to carve out the creek bed and place larger stones, or a drain system may be necessary to handle the water flow.  Experts can provide the advice and expertise needed to handle these situations.

For more information, call Blue Max Materials at 704-821-2426 or visit www.bluemaxmaterials.com.