Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
July, 2010
Regional Report

Share |

This is the headwater fall of my new stream.

My New Stream

I have a drainage problem. Well, not me personally, but my yard. My sump pumps run fairly constantly, and since they empty into the front yard, the soil in the water course was always wet and mucky except in the driest of summers. So, we decided to stop the flood and use that cold, clear water.

We called a pond expert who immediately told us was that a pond was out of the question because the rushing water would lift the pond liner from below. Then he suggested a stream, a babbling stream with a few small waterfalls. I had to rethink my entire idea.

Once he put the proposal together, it made sense. The sumps would fill the stream from the upper end, and the water would collect in a cistern at the lower end, to be pumped back up to the top. Because of the amount of water our sumps provide, we needed an overflow at the end. He designed a rain garden which sounded great until we got to looking at the scale of the yard. A garden of perennials would simply not be enough, so we decided to put in a tree and shrub rain garden.

He left us to ponder the possibilities while he put together a proposal and sketch. When he returned with the sketch, we decided to go ahead with the project and spent the next few days constantly on the phone asking questions and tweaking his plan.

When the day finally came, the crew showed up with a skid steer, a small backhoe and a dump truck full of rocks which they dropped on the driveway. And, they were off. They started digging and by the end of the first day had the cistern in place and the bottom end of the streambed excavated. They worked steadily through the week and in five days had the entire stream excavated, lined, and boulders and gravel placed.

They placed the limestone outcroppings to look as if they'd been uncovered by the glacier, and placed the "turtles" (round boulders in the stream). At the end of the stream there was a boulder field as nature would have placed, with the planting area of river birch, alders and willows just beyond that.

The stream is completely lined with a heavy poly liner that is tucked into the edges and covered with cobbles, outcrops and river gravel. We have five waterfalls and one deep pool, and the rest of the stream gently tumbles over river rock of all colors and sizes. The opening fall spills from a reservoir hidden with a limestone outcrop.

The bird activity has tripled around the water, and we have frogs and crayfish already in residence. It appears to be the ultimate solution to our drainage problem. And the beauty and sound have added elements to our landscape that are inspiring, calming and rejuvenating. I am so looking forward to watching it settle in over the next few years and look as if it was placed by nature.

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!


Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "Osteospermum"