A Dry Streambed Can Add Interest to a Drought Tolerant Landscape
Category: Dry Streambed | Sunday, April 1, 2012
One of the keys to a successful North San Diego landscape design is making sure that there is still interest in the front yard. Because curb appeal is so important and can greatly effect the value of your home, a thoughtful design is crucial.
Most front yards are currently dominated by an emerald swath of grass. This is great for curb appeal because it is verdant, clean, and manicured. However, it is terrible for the water bill and requires a lot of maintenance. With current water restrictions drastically limiting the use of spray irrigation systems (aka sprinklers) many lawns will become unattractive browning eyesores.
Instead of the lawn, we’ll explore a series of low water use design options for your front yard and publish them as our Low Water Use Idea Book. One of the first things that comes to mind, typically in a negative way, is to use rock. This brings up horrifying mental images of 1970’s brick red crushed lava rock yards. The more modern and much more attractive alternative is the dry streambed.
A well designed dry river beds can be a very ornamental addition to a low water use garden, but a poorly designed one can be ugly and unnatural. Here are a few things to think about when planning a dry riverbed:
First, imagine an actual dry stream. Instinctively, we know when we are looking at something designed by nature, but what are we actually seeing? Paying attention to nature can make all the difference between a San Diego dry streambed that looks awful and one that increases the curb appeal of your home.
1) Streams happen at low spots because that is how water flows. Because of this, your streambed needs to be carved out in a gentle “u” shape. This sounds obvious but is the most overlooked element of a well-designed dry riverbed.
2) Water sculpts real streams. In times when the stream is high, it carves away at the streambank, leaving behind larger boulders that are carved into the banks, not placed next to them! As a stream goes around a bend, the water at the outside edge of the stream has to move faster, so that side is typically carved, while the slower moving inner edge is where silt and sand is deposited. Think about this and use larger stone where the stream is carving and small pebbles on the inside bend where the stream is depositing.
3) As the water flow lessens through the spring, the heavier cobbles fall out of the flow, getting deposited towards the outside of the streambed while the middle of the stream is still flowing. As this continues, the middle of the stream becomes a pattern of smaller cobbles and gravel. A common mistake is only using one size of smaller material for the center of the stream. Use a minimum of two sizes of boulders and three sizes of cobble or gravel.
4) Real boulders don’t sit on the ground. Instead they are buried partially. For a natural look, boulders should be buried a minimum of 1/3 of the way in the ground.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kate_Wiseman