How to build a backyard stream water garden

Written by melanie l. marten
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Do you love the look and sound of a stream meandering through your property but you are devoid of natural water courses? You can build your own stream with careful planning and hard work, and have a lovely, natural-looking addition to your landscaping.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Marking pegs
  • String or rope
  • Shovel
  • Flexible pond liner
  • Corrugated water pipe
  • Rocks or gravel
  • Submersible pump
  • Hose connectors

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  1. 1

    Mark the route of the stream in your backyard with the string or rope and pegs. Ideally, begin the stream on a higher level than you finish it. This will make it easier to maintain the flow of the water. If the ground is too sloped, you will do better building a series of small ponds that cascade into one another.

  2. 2

    Dig the sod and dirt out of the whole width of the stream bed to a depth of at least fifteen inches. Dig a larger pool at the end. It needs to be deep enough so the submersible pump will be covered. Lay the pond liner sheet into the stream bed and the small pond at the end and press it tightly into the edges of the stream water garden. Hold this down along the edges with several large rocks.

  3. 3

    Lay a long length of the corrugated tubing down the whole length of the stream from the submersible pump to the top of the stream where the water will issue from. Attach the hose to the water garden pump with a valve or hose clamp attachment.

  4. 4

    Put some of the soil you removed from the stream bed and pond on top of the liner. Contour the dirt so it is deeper in the middle and shallow near the edges. This dirt provides substrate for plants to grow in. Cover all the dirt with pond stone or pea gravel. If you want plants, take this opportunity to plant them in the substrate in the stream and small pond. Line the sides of the pond with more gravel or larger rocks to hide the edges of the pond liner completely.

  5. 5

    Prop the top end of the corrugated water pipe up with several larger rocks at the beginning section or the stream. Arrange rocks and plants so it looks as natural as possible. Be sure that the corrugated tube will rest securely under the surface of the water.

  6. 6

    Fill the pond and stream with water from your hose and switch on the pump. The water should be pulled from the small pond at the bottom of the water garden and pumped to the top where the stream begins. If the water pressure is too high, turn off the pump and insert a flow restriction valve between the pipe and the pump.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the water runs swift enough to discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  • Remove all sharp rocks and roots before positioning the water garden liner.

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