Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed (Low Maintenance Gdn)

Landscaping a dry creek bed is the first phase of our low maintenance garden project. After finishing the stone patio installation in our backyard, we were left with a lonely patch of grass in the back corner. It didn’t really make sense to get out a lawn mower every week to mow such a small area; not to mention how awkward it would be to maneuver it past our patio set! More importantly, not using electricity to cut the grass – or water to keep it green – is the sustainable way to go!

Our solution was to install a dry creek bed and rock garden to replace the grass (you’ll see how to build a rock garden in Part 2).  There’s nothing more rewarding than putting some sweat equity into building a sustainable garden when the outcome is this gorgeous!

C_dry creek bed opening pic.jpg

Here’s how the back corner looked before we started; to get a sense of the area we had to work with, I’ve included an overhead shot of the garden.

C_overview_bof.jpg

Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed – Plan

Here’s a complete overview of the landscaping plan:

Landscape Plan

The first order of business is to dig an enormous hole. This gorgeous Blue Danube pom pom juniper will grow at the south end of the dry creek bed.

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

By the time Hubs dug this hole, we no longer had our clean fill bin to dump the soil. So he used some left over landscaping bags and filled them up. He placed the bags at the front of our house and the neighbours scooped them all up. Waste not want not!

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Is China really at the other end of this hole?

Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed – Outline

Once the juniper was planted, we used a garden hose to help us outline the shape of the dry creek bed. Then we could dig out the grass.  We sloped the sides and dug out a shallow bottom. Be sure to keep it shallow so you don’t have to fill it with too many stones. It was all hands on deck, so we didn’t get pictures of digging out the dry creek bed!

We added landscape cloth along the bottom and up the sides to prevent weeds from growing. We extended the landscape cloth a few feet over the edges. That’s so we could run it under some larger boulders we planned to place around the bed. In areas we weren’t planning on putting any boulders along the sides, we simply folded the landscape cloth under and staked it into the sides of the dry creek bed to prevent it from shifting.

When the landscape cloth was secured, we filled the dry creek bed with a colourful variety of smooth river rock.

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Embellishing the Dry Creek Bed

Stepping​ stones not only outline the shape of the dry creek bed, but they provide a practical solution to walk around and a landing pad to train our silver lace vine vine growing beside it as it gets bigger.

We handpicked the pieces at the stone yard that we thought would fit best. When shopping for flagstone, take along a sketch of your plan to help you visualize the space!

While we were at it, we also purchased some larger decorative boulders for the rock garden (which you’ll see how to build in Part 2) and a few extra boulders to sporadically place around the sides of the dry creek bed. When we got the stones home, we were excited to do a dry lay on-site to see how we did with our selection!

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Here you can see where the landscape cloth extends over the edge of the dry creek bed and is held down by some of the flagstone pieces. We’ll eventually use this ‘landing pad’ as a base to level one side of a wooden bridge that will span across the dry creek bed. We haven’t gotten around to building that yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day :).

You can fill in the gaps with some pea gravel, but we chose to fill them in with dirt so we could plant moss in between and around the stones (as you’ll also see further ahead).

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Take your time with the dry lay of the stepping stones and boulders to make sure they are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional!

Stepping stones_bof.jpg

Once we were happy with the placement, we dug around each stone with an edging tool and removed the grass as well as a few inches of topsoil. The goal was to inset the stones slightly below the surface to keep them in place and prevent shifting during colder weather.

Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed with River Rock

Next, it was time to get down to fine the tuning details and be one with the earth!  I literally sat myself down in the dry creek bed and pushed all the river rock out and over the edge of the landscape cloth to hide it.

thumb_IMG_2390_1024_bof.jpg

I kept a container of extra river rock (that Hubs kept refilling for me) in case I needed to add more. I worked my way around the entire perimeter: it was a slow process but it really transformed the dry creek bed from a hole in the ground to something that looks like it’s been there for ages!

thumb_IMG_2393_1024_bof.jpg

Statuary

Where the dry creek bed ends, we found the PERFECT statue to accent the pom pom juniper. We trailed the river rock from the dry creek bed around the ornamental juniper and in front of the statue ending it beside a pond we installed when we constructed our patio.

The statue represents a tragedy and comedy mask; a great reminder of all the hard work  –  with all its setbacks and humourous moments – that we put into building the garden from the ground up!

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Dry creek bed wrapping around our ‘Comedy/Tragedy’ statuary with Blue Danube Pom Pom Juniper in the background

Plantings

Once all the fine details were taken care of in the dry creek bed, we planted moss. Eventually it will grow to fill in the gaps between the flagstones. Around some of the boulders on the perimeter of the dry creek bed, we planted miniature day lillies (so they wouldn’t grow too tall) and some drought resistant (aka low maintenance) ground cover.

Remember the ‘landing pad’ of flagstones I showed you earlier?  Here’s the before and after of how that area filled in with moss. Isn’t it pretty?

C_Moss between flagstone.jpg

This is an inspiration shot. It’s how I envisioned using the flagstone to support a bridge across our dry creek bed. It’s the only thing I wish we had added. But it’s never too late – it’ll likely be a project we’ll attempt down the road.

Pond Tour 2007 095_bof.jpg

Dry Creek Bed Transformation

To finish the area around the dry creek bed, we covered a narrow pathway between it and the fence. Mulch keeps the mud and weeds at bay.

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

The moss gets billowy and full as it slowly spreads into the gaps

Here’s how the moss, ground cover and day lillies (in bloom) filled in over a few seasons of growth.  The dry creek bed looks seamless once the plants around it are fully grown; everything just drapes over and softens all the edges!

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

The south east corner of our backyard went from this lonely patch of grass:

Landscaping 078_bof.jpg

… to this lush section of our surburban oasis. For the time and effort we expended up front, it’s certainly a big payoff in the end. It’s far more interesting to look at than a patch of grass – and requires very little maintenance to maintain it! The only care it needs is a seasonal trimming of the ornamental juniper to maintain the round shape of the pom poms.

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Phase Two: Rock Garden

The dry creek bed really added a special touch to the garden, but we didn’t stop there! I was happy to have Hubs’ help through the next stage of the process too: I couldn’t have done it without my ‘partner in grime’ – as I like to refer to him! Check out part two of Low Maintenance Gardening to learn how to build a rock garden:

Millcroft Landscaping 163

At the side of our house, we found a way to protect our hostas from slugs – and we did it sustainably without the need for pesticides! Click here to read more.

C_opening_Hostas_bof

Privacy in the Garden

We also added some privacy to our small yard by building trellises to support a variety of flowering vines and a screen for the BBQ area (behind the retaining wall).  In late summer we have a wall of green:

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Late Summer; we planted 3 Silver Lace Vines for this full lush look

By the time the Silver Lace Vine blooms in the fall, it’s magnificent! It’s important to select a wide variety of plants when planning your garden to provide bloom from early spring into late fall; just doing our part to attract bees to the garden!

Click the link for the DIY on how to build trellises and privacy screens.

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Autumn; Silver Lace in full bloom

After a few years’ growth it’s still looking lush and beautiful! If this project has inspired you, pin it for later!

Pin Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed

We love it when you share our landscaping idea! Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

Landscaping a dry creek bed is phase one of our low maintenance garden project. Create a sustainable garden! Birdz of a Feather | dry creek bed landscape | dry creek bed for drainage | dry creek bed landscape backyards | dry creek bed diy | dry creek bed river rock landscaping | plants for dry creek bed | dry creek plants | dry creek bed backyard | how to make a dry creek bed | dry creek bed ideas | dry creek bed garden | landscape ideas | landscape design | backyard oasis | backyard ideas

More Garden Ideas

Be sure to check out a few of our other inspiring garden ideas like this upcycled mirror and shelf to expand any small outdoor space, and;

Planter 181_bof

Creative planter ideas – where we make the most of repurposing items such as this chair and enamel pot!

Planter Ideas

Stay calm and relax on this summer! I’ll leave you with a few more inspirational pictures of our garden which you can read more about by browsing our Garden Decor Ideas 🙂

Gardening ideas | landscaping ideas

At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room at a time. Follow us here. You can also follow us on PinterestFacebookYouTube and Instagram.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

27 thoughts on “Landscaping a Dry Creek Bed (Low Maintenance Gdn)

    • That sounds lovely; I’ve always wanted to add koi to our pond but I’m afraid it would just turn into a fast food joint for the neighbourhood animals!

      • Oh geez, didn’t think of that! We have a fence and the animals only forage heavily in the spring when food is scarce. My neighbor’s have never had a problem. Something to think about for sure!

  1. Pingback: This Is How we Roll Link Party #68 - Feeding Big

  2. Pingback: This Is How We Roll Thursday #68

  3. What an absolutely gorgeous garden you created! You’ve inspired me to think about changing my garden to a low-maintenance garden, too. Congrats, you’re featured this week on the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

  4. Pingback: Vinyl Record Art – Creating a VW Bug Key Holder | Birdz of a Feather Home

  5. Pingback: Succulent ‘Seat Cushion’: Hypertufa Planter | Birdz of a Feather Home

  6. Pingback: The Making of a Craft Studio (VI): The Final Reveal! | Birdz of a Feather Home

    • Thank you! It was actually the first time either one of us had gardened so we did a lot of research and planning before we broke ground. We’re really enjoying how it turned out.

  7. Pingback: How Does Your Garden Grow? | Birdz of a Feather Home

  8. Pingback: Beautify Your Yard with a Container Garden on the Cheap | Birdz of a Feather Home

  9. Pingback: Spring Forward – Building Trellises and Privacy Screens | Birdz of a Feather Home

  10. Sara, you and hubby did an amazing job, a total transformation. You have so many interesting items in your garden. The heads were an inspiration for a project I am doing now, but they are starting to look more like tiki heads. LOL

  11. Oh my gosh, Sara, what a stunningly beautiful spot you and your partner in grime created. I bet you spend all your time out there just relaxing and enjoying your handy work. So incredibly lovely.

Leave a Reply