Go with the flow

Learn from David Baker’s am­bi­tious stream gar­den to cre­ate a mini ver­sion for less.

Midwest Living - - Grow -

Rosy hydrangeas look to be lean­ing in for a sip. Their Greek name means “wa­ter ves­sel,” a nod to their thirsty na­ture and cu­p­like flow­ers.



IM­I­TATE NA­TURE Visit wild creeks and streams near your home (or on your trav­els) to ob­serve how the rocks and plants in­ter­act. Take pic­tures of in­ter­est­ing plants and go on­line or to a nurs­ery to ID ones you might use.

MIX THE ROCKS Most streambeds con­tain a mix of gravel, small river rocks, medium chunky rocks and large boul­ders. Choose a va­ri­ety of stone sizes to make your stream look nat­u­ral.

TRUST THE TER­RAIN Wa­ter tends to choose its own course, so don’t fight it. If your yard is sloped, di­rect wa­ter down­hill. Avoid send­ing it in a straight line, which speeds the flow and can cause ero­sion. Slow the wa­ter down by cre­at­ing curves, pools and me­an­der­ing routes.


Let plants, like the golden Asi­atic lilies shown here, spill into the wa­ter, and in­clude some wa­ter plants too. (Think float­ing leaves.) This will help con­nect the streambed with the rest of your gar­den.

CATCH RAIN­DROPS Con­sider adding a rain gar­den, a clus­ter of plant­ings that ab­sorbs rain­wa­ter runoff from your roof and gut­ters, lawn, pa­tio, or drive­way. Place it at a low spot in your yard, ideally at least 10 feet from your house and other struc­tures.

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