Streams are simple to build, but can easily become very difficult if a few rules aren’t followed. When designing streams, the main thing to look for is elevation changes that can work for or against you. Elevations working for you will have the slope coming towards the customer’s viewing area (such as a patio or deck).

Good slopes can make stream design much easier. All you need is to carve the hillside to create a natural area for a water course. Be sure the stream traverses across the slope to increase the viewing area and exposure, and to create a more natural looking streambed. You’ll want to make it look as though the water has eroded away the soil, exposing the stone underneath.

Stream Construction Techniques
When excavating a streambed into an existing slope of hill, simply mark the stream edge and dig down about 6” to 8” deep. This allows enough room to accommodate the rock, gravel, and water with a couple of inches to spare. Those couple of spare inches will allow for some settling and compaction of the soil to keep the stream leak-free. You can also dig the stream deeper, if desired.

The stream should twist and turn as it makes its way towards the pond. The turns will increase the sounds, and will also increase the number of viewing areas. The more places it can be seen, the more it’ll be enjoyed.

Infinite Variations with Limited Stones
You can create many different variations in stream style with just a few types of rocks by using various stream construction methods. A series of cascading falls that transition into wide sheets of water will create a variety of sounds and sights to be enjoyed by onlookers. Be sure to show your clients pictures of the different effects you’re able to create and let them choose which style they prefer.

As you prepare the waterfall and stream for rock placement, be sure to dig areas deeper where large boulders will rest. A good rule of thumb is to place a large rock at each turn in the stream. It doesn’t have to be a huge rock, but it should be larger than any of the other rocks used in the project. In addition, place larger stones, or a series of stones, at elevation changes to replicate the erosion process.

Along the way, you should mentally count the number of large stones that you’ll need to make sure you’ll have enough. These larger rocks take center stage, and all the other rocks will balance and support the entire composition.