How to Create a Dry Creek

This dry stream bed looks so natural, you'd think it had always been part of the landscape. But it can be created by nearly any DIY-savvy homeowner. Here's how.
dry creek

A dry creek bed offers a soothing, natural look in a garden.

Design yours with a few gentle curves and a mix of rock sizes for a garden feature you'll love year-round.

Find our step-by-step instructions below.


excavating soil with shovel

After determining the size and shape of the dry stream bed, excavate 12-15 inches of soil. This can be done with a backhoe or a shovel.


tramping sides to create creek

Tamp the ground firm to create a flat surface with angled sides. Then place landscape fabric over the entire surface, including the angled sides, to prevent weeds from popping through.


spreading out pea gravel

Cover the bottom and the sloping sides of the stream bed with 1/2 inch of crushed pea gravel. The sharp edges of the gravel will keep it from migrating when it rains or when someone walks on it.


placing rocks to create the dry creek

For a natural look, add river rock along the edges of the dry steam bed. Use various sizes, from 2 to 8 inches in length.


positioning large flat rocks

Position four large flat-top rocks so they can support a flagstone bridge. Anchor the rocks in place with cement so they won't move with freezing and thawing.