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How to Build a Backyard Stream

How to Build a Backyard Stream

The bright melody of a babbling brook paired with the soothing sight of water cascading over rocks is a dream for many homeowners. Purchasing riparian property may not be feasible, but recreating this tranquil scene in your own backyard is easier than it seems. Follow these steps to learn how to build a backyard stream, and soon, you will be relaxing in your personal oasis.

Make a Plan Before You Begin

Before you break ground or purchase supplies, you should have a solid plan in place. Familiarize yourself with your backyard's slope, existing structures, and soil composition. It is also vital to call 8-1-1 before you start digging so a crew can mark the locations of all underground utilities in your yard.

Once you understand the obstacles you’ll be building around, consider your desired water feature's size, shape, and complexity. Grab a pen and paper or use a digital mapping tool to sketch out the area where you want to build a stream and mock up some design ideas.

Step 1: Size Your Equipment

Whether you are adding to an existing pond or starting from scratch with a DIY Water Feature Kit, determine your stream's exact size and shape. This will allow you to make calculations for the materials you need, including:

  • Liner & Underlayment: You will need to know the length, width, and depth of your stream to calculate which size liner and underlayment you need for the project. Check out the Pond Liner Calculator Guide for the necessary equations.

  • Pump: A pump must be strong enough to move the water without being so powerful that it splashes water out of the stream. Learn how to choose your pump based on the head pressure and flow rate of your feature.

  • Plumbing: Once you pick out your pump, ensure you get the right size tubing and fittings to match. Don't forget to grab a Universal Check-Valve Assembly to prevent water from backflowing toward the pump.

  • Waterfall Box: This will help create a beautiful flowing look with rippled or smooth weirs. Waterfall Box sizes are based on your pump’s maximum flow rate. To boost filtration, consider using the ClearSpring Mini Waterfall Filter, which provides biological filtration in aquascapes up to 1,000 gallons.

Step 2: Grab Your Tools and Start Digging

Use a rope, garden hose, or spray chalk to outline your feature and help you envision what it will look like when finished. Avoid tight turns, as they can cause water to spill out of the stream. Next, start carving out your stream, pond, and filter locations and building up your waterfall bank.

Step 3: Place Your Gear

Place your waterfall box so it is level side to side but tipped about an inch forward. Then, lay out the tubing and attach the fittings. If you are using a skimmer box or pump canyon, you want to stabilize them now.

Step 4: Line It Up

Lay the underlayment across the stream and work it into all the corners of your excavated areas. Start from the middle and work your way out, leaving it loose so it can settle in the future. Repeat the process for installing your liner. Attach the waterfall box to the liner using Fish Safe Silicone to create a watertight seal.

Pro Tip: If you are installing your waterfall into an existing feature, you do not need to seam the stream liner to the pond liner. Simply place the stream liner over the pond liner so water can flow properly.

Step 5: Incorporate Rocks

Add large stones and boulders first, then fill in smaller gravel. Get creative and rework the area a few times to get the design you want. Use Waterfall Foam to seal the gaps between rocks. This both secures them and keeps water flowing smoothly. If desired, add LED Pro 3-Watt Submersible Lights to enjoy your stream at night.

Step 6: Finish the Aquascape

Trim the liner and underlayment. Leave six to eight inches of overhang so you can roll the edge under the liner. Finish the edge and secure the liner by covering it with gravel. Fill up your basin with water and conditioner if you have fish, and plug in the pump once it is full.

Now that your water feature is flowing, you can add plants, decorative stones, statuary, and other aesthetic extras to personalize the look. Finally, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy your new backyard stream!

More DIY Stream, Pond, and Water Feature Guides

Building a backyard pond with a stream and waterfall is a rewarding undertaking that can boost the everyday enjoyment of your property and its value! If you are just getting started, contact us for helpful tips and advice at 866-766-3435, or check out these related articles:

How to Build a Pond
Why Build a Water Feature
Choosing a Pond or Pondless Water Feature
Which Pond Kit Should I Choose?
DIY Backyard Pond Kit Components

Last Updated: May 8, 2024