How to Build a Stream in Your Garden
To build a stream, site evaluation is necessary. The surrounding topography must relate to the water feature. How would water flow through the property naturally, or, what do we need to change to make a stream look as though it flows through the property naturally.
Grade changes are a perfect opportunity to create new interest features in the landscape. A slope on a property is an asset that should be used properly and not wasted. Digging out a slope to build a waterfall will provide for a larger cascade but additional retaining will be necessary. Sloping the waterfall building area will enable the stream to meander with little cascades and a minimal amount of pooling.
On many waterfall projects retaining is necessary. How we decide to retain an area makes a big difference. Retaining walls divide up space. Often it is preferable to build a retaining wall that looks natural. This style of wall does not chop up the property but becomes part of the landscape. The introductions of plants add interest and intimacy.
Instead of using a conventional retaining wall on a project we can use natural rock ledges harvested and re-installed. This method of retaining enhances the project with many living spaces and plant pockets. The rock ledge appears to have been there before the house.
On flat properties a stream may look the most natural. Each level of a cascade can provide different interests and different planting environments. By building usable places in the garden we can lure a visitor into a unique space. This living wall is always evolving; each visit evokes a different experience.
The most important principle to keep in mind is that streams and waterfalls should fit into the landscape.
STREAM CONSTRUCTION – STEP BY STEP:
- Excavate area to the elevation of the pool beam or the edge of the pond.
- Stabilize the building area. This is the most important part of the project. Depending on how heavy the rock installation, tamped soil, soil cement or a cement foundation may be necessary.
- Slope toward the pond, this will prevent the water from running back under the waterproofing material.
- Install waterproofing rubber. We do not recommend using cement because it cracks over time and leaks.
- Arrange rocks on the rubber carefully. A poorly placed rock can result in a hole in the rubber, which will cause leaking problems over time.
- Arrange the retaining rocks outside the rubber to retain the grade.
- Install plantings.