Midwest Living

Go with the flow

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


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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4 5 1 2 drink of pink 3 1 2 3 4 5

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