Creating a stream in the garden - building instructions and tips for design

Creating a stream in the garden - building instructions and tips for design

Thorough planning is half the battle

In advance, please create a true-to-scale plan sketch. Define here exactly the area over which the watercourse extends, where the reservoir and spring are located. In order to get a three-dimensional idea of ​​the finished appearance, ideally mark the planned stream with cords and wooden sticks. On this occasion you also mark the location for the electricity and water connection.

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The planning work also includes considerations as to how the necessary gradient is created. This requirement is naturally fulfilled on the hillside property. In practice, it has proven effective to use the excavated pond, swimming pool and other water worlds for this purpose on level terrain. A gradient of 2 cm to 100 cm is enough for the water to flow.

Complete sets make shopping easy

A wide variety of complete sets for a watercourse are available for purchase in hardware stores, garden centers and online shops. This has the advantage that you get all the essential materials from a single source, from the source stone to pond liner or stream basin to a powerful pump. The rule of thumb for the optimal pump strength is: For every centimeter of the width of the watercourse, 1.5 liters of water per minute must gush at the source.

In addition, you need root protection fleece, sand, spade, spirit level, wheelbarrow and plenty of muscle power if you want to create your watercourse properly.

Digging a stream - how to do it right

First, cut the outline of the watercourse with the spade. Peel off any sod or turf at this point. In practice, a depth of 25 to 35 cm and a width of 30 to 60 cm have proven to be recommended. How to proceed properly:

  • Dig the stream bed along the markings, remove stones and roots
  • Important: Banks are on exactly the same level on both sides so that no water runs out later
  • Firmly compact the subsoil so that the earth does not sag
  • Create a 5 cm high layer of sand to protect the pond liner or stream shells from damage
  • Ideally, lay a root protection fleece on the sand layer

At the end of the stream you dig a collecting basin, if there is not already a pond there. A water depth of at least 80 cm is advisable so that the pump works smoothly and does not freeze in winter.

Creating a watercourse - you should pay attention to this

Lay the pond liner 25 cm above the bank. Otherwise it could slip into the watercourse. The film also acts as a capillary protection so that the surrounding soil does not draw water from the stream. The technical heart of the watercourse is the pump. You use these on a platform in the collecting basin or pond. The distance to the ground ensures that the pump does not become silted up.

You can lay the pressure hose either under the pond liner or along the bank in a 30 cm deep channel. The water connection is decoratively hidden with a spring stone, spring pot or water spout.

Design ideas - how to give your stream a natural flair

Once the technology for your watercourse is in place, the visual design comes into focus. With natural stones and gravel you can decoratively frame the bank and at the same time stabilize the pond liner against slipping. Funny pond figures, like a fishing frog, spread a good mood on the watercourse. So that the floral aspect is not neglected, we recommend this planting along the stream:

Dry bank areas:

  • Gold basket (Chrysogonum virginianum) with golden yellow flowers from May to August and evergreen foliage; 8-10 cm high
  • Rose cowslip (Primula rosea) with purple-pink spring flowers; 3-10 cm high and 15 to 20 cm wide
  • Swamp forget-me-nots (Myosotis palustris) with a sea of ​​white flowers from May to August; 30-40 cm high

Damp bank areas:

  • Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) shines with yellow flowers in April and May; 30-40 cm high
  • Colorful lizard's tail (Houttuynia cordata) furious leaf decoration ground cover with red-edged leaves; 30-40 cm high
  • Bachbunge (Veronica beccabunga), the classic for the watercourse with blue summer blossoms; 30-40 cm high

Pretty ornamental grasses with a preference for moist soil complete the planting plan for the stream. We would particularly like to recommend you the delightful cotton grass (Eriophorum vaginatum). After a silvery-white bloom from March to May, the piece of jewelery with white pompom heads as seed pods inspires. Wherever cottongrass likes it, it surprises with a second flowering period in early autumn.


You can put your watercourse in the right light with romantic lighting. You can install lighting systems based on low voltage in the garden yourself. It works independently of cables with solar lamps, which however often remain dark during the winter due to a lack of solar energy.