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DIY Alert: Creating Your Own Dry Riverbed to Divert Water Away From Your Home

Wednesday, May 1, 2024   /   by Bell Home Team

DIY Alert: Creating Your Own Dry Riverbed to Divert Water Away From Your Home

As spring showers bring life to our gardens, ensuring proper drainage becomes paramount for maintaining the beauty of our outdoor spaces. With the anticipation of heavy rainfall this season, implementing effective water diversion strategies is essential. One practical solution is to create a dry riverbed—a charming and functional feature that not only channels excess water away from your home but also adds aesthetic appeal to your landscape. Follow this step-by-step guide to craft your own dry riverbed and safeguard your home and garden from pooling water and damage.

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1.    Assess Your Landscape: Begin by surveying your yard to identify areas prone to water accumulation or runoff. Pay close attention to the natural slope of the terrain and the path of water flow during rainfall events. These observations will guide the placement and design of your dry riverbed.


2.    Gather Your Materials: For this project, you'll need a variety of materials, including river rocks or pebbles, landscape fabric, a shovel, edging material (such as bricks, stones, or landscape edging), and optional decorative elements like larger rocks or boulders. Ensure you have all the necessary tools and supplies on hand before starting.

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3.    Plan the Layout: For larger dry riverbeds, consider using spray paint or garden stakes, to outline the desired path of your dry riverbed.  For smaller riverbeds like the one shown here, a little sculpting with the dirt or even disposable plastic ware to mark your outline should suffice.  Consider factors such as the proximity to downspouts or areas of water accumulation, as well as aesthetic considerations like curves or bends to mimic the natural flow of a river.  Also keep in mind the width of your riverbed, to ensure water will collect effectively in your new trench.  For example, for installing these at the base of a downspout, keep the riverbed wider at the opening of the downspout to so that during heavy rains, water will collect in the riverbed and not overflow out.

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4.    Excavate the Area: With your layout in place, begin digging the trench for your dry riverbed. Aim for a depth and width that can effectively accommodate water runoff while maintaining a naturalistic appearance.  For the river beds shown here, dig deep enough so that after you fill in the riverbed with stones, there is still about 3 inches of space for water flow to rise. Remove any grass, roots, or debris from the excavation site.

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5.    Install Landscape Fabric: Once the trench is excavated, line the bottom and sides with landscape fabric to prevent soil erosion and weed growth. Trim the fabric to fit the dimensions of the trench and secure it in place using stakes or rocks.

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6.    Add Edging Material: To define the borders of your dry riverbed and prevent erosion, install edging material along the edges of the trench. This can be accomplished using bricks, stones, or pre-formed landscape edging. Ensure the edging is securely in place and level with the surrounding terrain.

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7.    Layer with River Rocks: With the groundwork laid, it's time to fill the trench with river rocks or pebbles. Don’t forget to consider gradient here, with slightly more towards the edge where water is likely to accumulate, and less towards the directed path.  Ensuring a slight slope to your riverbed will help keep the water moving towards where you want it to go (i.e. away from your house) and not pooling.  Start by adding a layer of smaller rocks at the bottom of the trench, gradually building up the sides with bigger stones. Arrange the rocks in a naturalistic pattern, varying shapes and sizes to create visual interest.

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8.    Incorporate Decorative Elements: For added charm and personality, consider incorporating decorative elements like larger rocks or boulders strategically along the length of the dry riverbed. These focal points can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your landscape while also serving as functional elements for directing water flow.

9.    Final Touches: Once the dry riverbed is in place, take a moment to inspect and make any necessary adjustments. Ensure the rocks are securely positioned and that the overall appearance aligns with your vision. Consider adding drought-resistant plants or native vegetation along the banks to further enhance the natural beauty of the feature.

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By following these simple steps, you can create a stunning dry riverbed that not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your landscape but also provides effective water diversion during periods of heavy rainfall. As spring brings forth abundant blooms and lush greenery, take proactive measures to safeguard your garden and preserve its beauty for seasons to come.

Original Content Credit: Hometalk & Two Twenty OneDesigns By Danielle