Unfortunately, flowing water in the garden rarely occurs naturally. We humans usually have to help out a bit. A stream in the garden is artificially created in many cases. But that doesn’t matter, if it’s well made and designed, it looks completely natural. From gentle splashing to powerful rushing, everything is possible, depending on how you create a stream. It ranges from the small, formal gully that only flows slowly, to a near-natural stream that trickles over stones, to smaller or larger cascades and waterfalls. Many things are feasible, but should always match the style of the garden.


You can integrate the most diverse stream types into the garden. In principle everything is possible. Even mountain streams with high cascades can be built. Everything is a question of space, design and price. There are no limits to the imagination if the wallet and the garden allow it. Most water lovers prefer a garden pond or a slower-flowing stream. Flowing waters can offer all sorts of visuals, but are quiet enough not to be a nuisance. In terms of design, the spectrum ranges from near-natural streams to gullies that flow in fixed beds and are more similar to flowing ornamental ponds.

Tip: Always choose the same materials, otherwise the stream will look too restless.

Typical stream types

  • Near-natural, slow-flowing Wiesenbach – narrow stream that almost disappears under great planting, which is more noticeable acoustically than visually. Built-in barrages or a disappeared course are favorable. You can also force him to take detours by using reeds or boulders.
  • Romantic creek with a small waterfall – the best means of a successful design is to create the creek and the surroundings thematically, full of wild confusion of colors and shapes. You can create a forest atmosphere with a few trees in the background and certain perennials, which has a very romantic effect.
  • Lushly overgrown, wild creek – here, too, the creek recedes into the background. You can hear the stream and hardly see it. It is favorable to let the stream run out in a small basin. That’s where the water comes in. Planting is dense around the stream and the pool, everything should look lush, but more as if it were accidental, not planned.
  • Wildly rushing mountain or rock stream – naturally piled up boulders that form a somewhat wild scenery. Cascades that run down the individual steps form the visual highlight. Plants must be skilfully inserted here, must not be too dominant and must not cover anything. It is best to choose quite low-growing plants as a splash of colour.
  • Artificial waterfalls – with good technology, anything is possible these days. You can make a waterfall, a cascade shoot out between rocks or trickle down walls without having to create a special stream. These objects are ideal for small gardens. No landscape is formed, it is a single work of art.

Design of a stream

When planning, the desired type of landscape should be in the foreground. This facilitates the construction and planting of the watercourse. In addition, the more natural, the longer and the more tortuous a stream course, the larger the total area required. Long straights should be avoided for optical reasons. Rather, it is important to be able to follow the course with your eyes.

The quiet meadow stream

This stream is ideal for level gardens. A slow-flowing stream with gently rolling curves, gentle gradients and varying widths can be created in an absolutely natural way. It is best realized as a foil stream. Two to three curves reach on the way from the source to the collecting basin. Wide and narrow sections are important, where the marsh plants will come later. It is particularly beautiful if you let the water flow over some stones. This creates vortices and small currents. In addition, noise is generated in this way. The gradient must not exceed 1 to 2 percent, otherwise the impression of a slowly flowing body of water is gone. That means a height difference of 5 to 10 cm on a 5m stream.

The Cascade Stream

The cascading stream offers the advantage that it can be assembled quite easily from ready-made elements. It is built quickly and shows more action than a calmly flowing meadow stream. The shell construction elements can be stacked on top of each other on a simple sand or lean concrete base. In the raw state, such in Kaskadenbach is not necessarily a highlight, it simply looks artificial. With the right design, however, the appearance changes and with the flowing water, especially with the noises that are made. Edge planting with overhanging perennials (ferns, grasses, hostas, etc.) is ideal. This also eliminates the hard edges of the finished parts. It looks as if the water of the creek is tumbling down natural cascades. The source of the stream should blend in harmoniously.

The stream for steep terrain

In the case of sloping land, you can naturally design a stream with a large gradient. A mountain stream can look spectacular depending on how it is laid out. It is important not to let the water flow straight. Short stretches of flow running parallel to the slope, which end in barrages or basins (retention basins), give the stream a natural appearance. The water comes to rest in the pools and this is also the best place for aquatic plants. Mountain streams appear all the more natural when the water can repeatedly disappear behind vegetation or rocks, only to burst out elsewhere. It’s not easy to do, but it’s worth the effort.

The implementation of the construction

In the beginning, of course, there is the plan. You draw the property and think about where the stream can best be routed. Where’s the best place? The shape of the terrain, light and shade, trees and shrubs (planting) must be included. The best time to start construction is in late spring. It must no longer be too cold for the water to freeze and you have until April/May when the first aquatic plants should be planted. Construction is possible in summer, but it is too late to plant aquatic plants. They don’t grow before winter. You’ll have to wait until next year for that.
Only when you have all the materials together can construction begin.

create a stream

The stream is the focus, but the catch basin (retention basin), pump and intake manifold are also important. They must not be too small, because the amount of water must be sufficient to supply the pipes and the entire creek with water. A small stream of 5 meters in length with small intermediate basins requires a collection basin with a capacity of around 500 litres.

Tip: Be sure to seek advice when choosing a pump. The selection depends on the purpose, width and length of the stream, the height of the gradient, the length of the line and the diameter of the line between the pump and the source.

Stream bowls – first lay out the bowls completely and then dig the retention basin. The subsoil under the shells is modeled with the excavation. You need a gently sloping slope. The ground must be tamped very firmly. Sand is piled on top of that. The shells are adjusted from bottom to top. The spout must protrude a few centimeters. Lay the lines from the pump to the spring at the end and decorate with rocks and stones all around!

Concrete Streams – Concrete stream pools are ideal for slopes. It is good that the subsoil can be roughened and stones can be poured in. The water can break on them later. The course of the stream is dug up and sound boards are laid in it. The stream bowl is poured out (secure with reinforcing iron against tearing and frost ). The still soft concrete can be shaped somewhat irregularly with a trowel. Interesting bays, arches and steep edges can be incorporated. Alternatively, you can use ready-made U-shaped stones, which are dug in and filled with concrete.

Folienbach – the course of the stream is dug up in the desired shape, the ground is smoothed. Then a protective layer of sand and fleece is applied, just like with a liner pond. The foil is spread over this. It must protrude at least 10 to 15 cm in the stream. The slide is flattened. It is important to ensure that it does not lie anywhere on a sharp-edged surface or has large folds. Before proceeding further, let water flow through the stream (water hose) to check that everything is flowing smoothly. Only then is the environment tackled, i.e. stones, rocks, pebbles and plants.

Foil over barrages– the stream is formed directly into the slope. A layer of sand is stamped in and everything is covered with fleece and then with foil. If the terrain is very steep, barrages must be installed. Without these, the water flows too fast. Concrete dams can be used without any problems. Before you put on the fleece and the foil, you should insert an additional strip of fleece, because concrete is very rough. Now you can do a test run. Larger stones can be placed in streams and pools. It is important that the water breaks naturally. Cover the foil with pebbles. Larger stones are placed in between as decoration and obstacles. After the course of the stream has been laid, the shafts for the supply lines are dug and the pump and pipes are installed. Cover the edge of the foil with larger stones, which give strength.

Note: Pond liner is not just pond liner. The best but also the most expensive foil is EPDM (rubber). It has many good properties and is environmentally neutral.

A stream often looks more natural than a garden pond, depending on how it is laid out. The noises that a stream makes are usually great to listen to. Of course, it always depends on the conditions in the garden, which design options arise, but in principle a lot is possible. If you don’t have a clear idea and if you lack inspiration, you can visit specialist dealers who have a large exhibition area. Ponds and streams are set up there, so you get a good impression. Garden architects are also great at planning and implementing such things, which is only more expensive than if you do it yourself. I would like to have a stream in the garden, even better than a normal pond. I hope my next garden will make room for it.

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