Dry Streambeds are very popular throughout the country and are an integral part of many styles often found in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, from very dry (xeric) gardens, to alpine rock gardens, Asian, Northwest, woodland, cottage, contemporary, and more. People love the idea of water and often a dry streambed is appealing because they require less maintenance than a pond or waterfall or fountain. People who want a lawn alternative like the idea of incorporating a dry stream bed and plantings to greatly reduce or replace the need for lawn. A dry streambed adds interest and interrupts the monotony of just plantings in a yard. Often a client will mention a dry streambed specifically or describe the components before Shades of Green Landscaping can even inquire during the client interview. Other times, the client is completely surprised but usually loves the suggestion of designing a place for one in their yard.
Dry streambeds suggest the idea of water, even though, they are for the most part, completely dry. The driest (xeric) usually have sparse plantings and the rocks, boulders and pebbles are the main attraction. Or, they can be made to look like they are in the ‘dry stage’ of a naturally formed depression that sometimes carries intermittent water such as after a heavy rain or during snow-melt. These will have more plantings than the drier style. Or, they may be incorporated into a design of lush plantings, and while they remain the feature, they also help visually support the plantings, providing various levels and places for plants to cascade, or niches for them, or microclimate areas within them or along the sides.
Besides the inherent interest the use of boulders and rocks creates within a planting bed, lawn, or other element in the yard, dry stream beds can be quite functional, even necessary. They can intercept and redirect springs and surface water in a pleasing way. Overflow provisions for a fountain or other water feature can use a dry stream instead of being tied into a foundation drain, French drain, or directed to a lower area, which is not always possible. Often the dry streambed will be part of another feature, such as a fountain and will make them seem larger or more enhanced. In places where both a path and a dry streambed would be redundant, a dry stream bed can sometimes be used as both.
Besides the beauty and interest a dry streambed may add within a planting bed, or the function of directing water away, Shades of Green Landscaping often designs dry streambeds for separation of one space from another, such as the children’s’ play structure area and the lawn, or the more formal well-manicured lawn area and the more ‘pastoral’ lawn in the distance. Often the connection of the two areas is with a bridge of some form, which provides another opportunity to add a fun element to the yard.
Dry Streambeds can be designed into most topographies – they can be totally flat and can be almost vertical, and all angles in-between. Shades of Green Landscaping designs most dry streambeds to look as natural as possible, as we find most clients prefer this look and it fits in so well with so many of the popular styles here in the Pacific Northwest. However, the are some styles, such as very contemporary and some Asian, where a dry streambed (or use of pebbles, rocks) are intended to look more ‘engineered’, with straight lines and precision. Shades of Green Landscaping can create that look also.
Below are a few ways Dry Stream Beds have been designed into yards:
The side yard of this home was replaced by steep lawn areas and transformed into a dry streambed with lots of plantings, adding a nice separation between the entry walk and the busy street nearby.
Huge boulders and washed rocks were placed as a dry stream bed to separate the ornamental lawn from the pasture on the far side of the stream bed. The stream bed and plantings are a great foreground to the beautiful view of Mt Ranier in the distance across the pasture on this Enumclaw property.
This dry stream bed separates the formal lawn area and where the kids and dogs play football, soccer, hit golf balls and use the large play structure. The bridge connects the two lawn spaces.
The new front entry walk includes an Ipe wood bridge that crosses a dry waterfall and stream bed….much more interesting that a 30″ wide aggregate sidewalk in right angles.
Dry waterfall and stream bed installed inside a large circular drive.
Dry stream bed and drought loving plants highlight this large fountain the client owns.
Crew constructing the stream bed from previous photo after large boulders have been set and grade established.
A xeric garden of heat-loving and drought tolerant plants in this Steilicoom back yard. A large slab has been made into a ‘bridge’ for crossing the small dry stream bed.
Dry stream bed adds interest when going from the driveway to the front door, on both sides of the aggregate sidewalk.
The once all-lawn front yard on this very steep slope was changed into a meandering dry stream bed and dry waterfall with lots of plants, adding interest, beauty and lots of safety from mowing on such a steep slope.
This dry stream meanders through the natural area of the yard. It helps for both drainage, but also can be used as a ‘rough’ walkway if necessary.
Clients wanted no lawn in their front yard, so they opted for a dry waterfall and pond on the steep slope.
This large 1000 pound slab was made into a bridge to cross this sunken dry stream bed.
Bags of flat, black river rock were used as the stream bed that intercepts water from a spring on the steep planting area. There is a drainage line below the black rock that carries water away.
Boulders and rocks et as a dry stream bed, accent border between lan and planting beds and to add contrasting colors.
Dry Stream bed at Seattle home flows around old blue spruce
This very large dry stream bed is dramatic and appropriate in scale for the large 5 acre property. There are lots of evergreens, ornamental grasses, and perennials planted for year round interest.