Installing a Dry Creek Bed

Dry Creek BedSpring time is one of the most beautiful times of the year and one of the wettest too. This time of the year can be brutal to your poorly graded yard. Do you have small rivers flowing through your back yard? When it pours does half of your yard erode away? If you answered yes, more than likely you have poor drainage issues. This problem can be solved a couple of different ways; installing a dry creek bed or a French drain system. These two things can help curve that problem of flooding in your yard.

Dry creek beds are very easy to build and help channel the water like a natural river would. You can use river rock or other similar size stones. Use marking paint to spray out the shape of your creek bed, making it look curvy and natural as possible. Dig a trench between your mark, between two and three feet deep, using the soil you dug out to build up mounds on both sides. Place larger size river rocks or boulders on the edge of the river bed to give it a good edger. You can place landscape fabric down if you want to keep weeds and plants from growing through your bed. After you have your edging rocks placed, you can line the rest of the bed with smaller size stones to cover the bare ground. These stones should be a mixture of different sizes and will help create the look of a natural creek. Once completed, your yard should start to flow better and look less like a flood plain.

Another way to curb your flood problems is digging and installing a French drain system. A French drain system is a trench filled with gravel or rock containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water away from an area. It works by allowing the gravel to filter the water down through to the pipe underneath. The pipe will be perforated and wrapped with a fabric sleeve to help prevent clogs from sediment. Once the water enters the pipe it drains the water toward the desired direction and the rest seeps out of the perforations, which filters through the remaining gravel and into the ground.  The products needed for this type of system is a 4 or 6 inch pipe that is perforated (filled with holes), a shovel, and some gravel. Make sure your drain is wide. It will take longer to clog up the wider your trench is. You will want a width of 8-12 inches and a depth one foot. Grading is critical in the way the water flows. Be sure that enough slopes exist so the water will flow easily. A 1 to 2 percent slope is optimal.

dry creek bedOnce you have your trench dug out, you will want to lay an inch or two of gravel in the bottom of the trench. Place your drain pipe, which should be wrapped with filter fabric, on the gravel and finish filling in with gravel around the pipe. Last but not least, you will want to lay at least 3 or 4 inches of course sand on top. This will provide a medium for turf to grow so the trench will not be visible. Now you are in business. Your drainage problems should be fixed and now your yard should look less like a flood area.

Check back next month for an educational spotlight on topsoil’s and the differences in types used for gardens.

Brandon Chatham

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