What is a dry creek bed?
Dry creek beds, also known as dry stream beds, are a landscape feature that uses river rock to mimic the look of a stream bed or creek. The trenches are lined with stones, with various types of plants and sometimes other rocks located along the edges to create a natural look.
Aside from their aesthetic appeal, dry creek beds also serve a functional purpose. They help to improve water drainage after heavy periods of rainfall and can be designed to create a channel that runs into a specific area of the garden where the water can be drained more efficiently.
A dry creek bed can also act as a collection point for the water to filter into the soil, which is possible when a permeable membrane is installed beneath the river rock. This is more suitable for gardens that do not need large volumes of drainage, as a more complex system is required to ensure water safely dissipates from the surface area.
What is the best landscape fabric for a dry creek bed?
A common problem experienced with dry creek beds is weed growth, which can increase the amount of maintenance work that needs to be carried out. The easiest way to combat this is to use a landscape fabric that enables the soil to breathe while also preventing excessive weed growth.
If you are installing a dry creek bed in your garden or outdoor space, the best fabric to use is Groundtex. This professional landscape fabric has permeable properties and is also able to reduce weed growth by blocking out sunlight. While Groundtex cannot prevent new weeds from growing on the surface, it will suppress invasive weeds and grasses that are already in the ground, such as Crocosmia, Bindweed, Ground Elder, nettles and more, if the ground is chemically treated and the roots removed before the fabric is laid.
At the same time, water, air and nutrients can still be received by the soil to keep it in good condition and support plant growth. Groundtex is a multipurpose woven geo fabric that is tough, durable and long-lasting, and can be used in a variety of applications.
How do you install a dry creek bed?
To install a dry creek bed, follow the steps below as a guide:
- Create your design – a dry creek bed with an ‘S’ design is the most common style found in gardens. Excavate about 12-18 inches of soil using a shovel once you have settled on the size and shape of the bed. If you are building the bed with drainage in mind, keep the curves on the design subtle and not too wide.
- Install the landscape fabric – use a tamper or sledgehammer to tamper the ground, so you have angled sides and a flat surface. Then cover the entire surface, including the angled sides, with a permeable membrane. Groundtex is the best solution for a dry creek bed due to its strength, which enables it to hold gravel. Even if the bed is exposed to foot traffic, the feature will still remain intact.
- Fill in the creek – with Groundtex landscape fabric in place, cover the surface and sides with river rock. We recommend pea gravel or coastal Scottish cobbles.
- Add some plants – finally place some plants along the edges of the creek, ideally ones that are drought-tolerant. Succulents always look great with rock, but first make sure they are suitable for your local climate. Depending on the type of plants you use, you may have to trim them from time-to-time to ensure they don’t overgrow. You can also add big rocks and other features, as desired.
Where a dry creek bed is being installed for drainage, build it in a low spot in the garden where puddles occasionally form, at the bottom of a slope, or up a small rise to stop rainwater flowing downhill. To make it look more natural, you can blend it into the surrounding landscape by positioning a garden bed around the creek. If you are building a large dry creek bed, you can add in a flat bridge or stepping stones to cross from one side to the other.
With over 20 years of experience in the landscape industry, Growtivation understands the needs of landscaping professionals and has concentrated on providing high-performance solutions with our Product That Works range.
Growtivation’s wide range of professional landscaping systems means we have the right solution for all common landscaping problems.
Find out more about the Growtivation Product That Works range by downloading our Product Guide and your free copy of our Landscaping That Works guide to weed control and geotextile fabrics. Our PledgeMark warranty certifies that our products are suitable for their intended use for your peace of mind and quality assurance.