A Peaceful Streambed
Create your own little bit of peace and quiet in just a small section of yard.
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The side yard is quite possibly the most neglected portion of a property. But what if you could turn this space into a peaceful retreat? Master gardener Paul James and landscape designer Michael Glassman transform a tiresome-looking side yard into a tranquil and soothing streambed garden. This project takes as little as two days. See how they do it:
To begin, prepare the area for the new streambed by clearing out all the vegetation, gravel and junk.
Because you'll need electricity for the water pump, Micahel recommends a dedicated circuit. "Placement is extremely important when creating this water feature. It may seem like I'm boxed in this little corner," says Micahel, "but I've chosen this area because it's in front of the living room window, so you get all this enjoyment from looking out."
To start the streambed, outline the shape of the stream in flour, making a wider, deeper area for the pump. Then dig out the stream. Mound the excavated dirt around the perimeter of the stream forming a lip that will help keep water in and mud out.
If you have a rocky soil, you'll need something, such as sand or newspaper, to insulate the liner so it won't tear. Lay the newspaper or sand along the bottom and then lay durable, 45-mm rubber liner in the streambed, making sure it overlaps the lip by at least one foot. Using a tape measurer and scissors, trim the liner to one foot out from the edge of the stream and get rid of the excess lining. You can make your own homemade landscape fabric staples by bending wire into an inverted u-shape to secure the liner to the ground.
For the water starting point, consider a special feature like this stone monolith with bamboo spout. PVC pipe is a great material for this project because it's easy to cut and has all kinds of connectors to fit the bends of the streambed. Use quick-drying PVC pipe adhesive to bond the pipes and the water pump together for a watertight seal.
Add a drainpipe so the bed can be emptied periodically. The pipes that stick up are where the water flows up over the rocks, and the nearby valve can adjust the speed of the water from these pipes.
On the second day, wash river rock thoroughly before adding it to the streambed so that it doesn't become a muddy mess. Layer the rocks over the pipes in the streambed to disguise the plumbing, using a rounded shovel to minimize the risk of puncturing the lining. Use large pieces of slate to form a ledge around the lip of the stream and smaller pieces to create a stair-step into the water.