How To Build A Backyard Stream

How nice would it be to have a natural stream running through your garden?

Building a backyard stream means that you can enjoy the sound of water gently flowing over the rocks and you’ll have lots of beautiful birds, frogs and other wildlife visiting your backyard.

It’s not too difficult to build your own backyard stream and it’s a great DIY project that you can complete in a weekend.

In this article I’ll tell you step by step how to create a beautiful stream in your backyard garden.

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backyard stream



First of all you need to choose the location for your stream.

Ideally you want to build it somewhere that is easily visible from inside the house so you can sit and enjoy the view.

Backyard streams are perfect for sloping yards but it doesn’t have to be a large slope.

A slight slope makes it easy to install a gently trickling waterfall, but if your land is flat you can build it up with soil and rocks to create the slope.

natural stream

Digging and lining the stream

The stream will need to be deep enough to cover the pump and provide enough water for the waterfall.

6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) deep should be sufficient.

Important note: Children can drown in as little as 2 inches (5 centimeters) of water, so be sure to follow safety precautions like installing a child-proof fence and keep kids supervised at all times in the yard. [1]

Flexible pond liner is the easiest way to line a stream. It’s flexible and durable so it can withstand rocks falling into the stream.

natural garden stream

Add rocks

You can lay large rocks around the edges of the stream or use pebbles in a small section to allow frogs and other wildlife to easily get in and out of the water.

Place a few large rocks in the middle of the stream for birds to land on and take a drink. 

garden stream

To create the waterfall you can use one large square shaped rock or several flat rocks stacked on top of each other.

If the stream is too wide to step across, you can add a couple of large stepping stones or install a small bridge to allow you to cross the stream easily.

RELATED: Best Rocks For Backyard Ponds

garden stream with bridge

Install the pump

A submersible pump placed at the bottom of the stream will pump the water up to the top of the waterfall.

If your stream is short with a small waterfall, you’ll only require a low powered pump, but a longer stream with a tall waterfall will need a high powered pump.

You’ll also need flexible tubing to connect to the pump and you can hide the tubing behind the rocks.

The tubing can be used to create the spout of the waterfall or you can connect the tubing to a spillway to create a beautiful waterfall.

natural stream waterfall


Planting a range of different plants along the edges of the stream will help it to blend into the surrounding landscape and give it a natural look, while also attracting birds, bees, dragonflies, frogs and other wildlife to your backyard.

Try to include a mix of flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses, annuals and perennials for year round color and interest.

RELATED: 10 Flowering Pond Plants

Fill the stream with water

Ordinary tap water is fine for filling up the stream. The chlorine will dissipate in a couple of days.

During summer you’ll need to top up the water as it will evaporate quickly, or if you’re in a drought affected area you can let the stream run dry over summer and refill it in the cooler months.

natural backyard stream

Add lights

Lighting up the stream means that you can enjoy the stream at night time as well.

An outdoor spotlight will light up the stream beautifully or you can place submersible LED lights on the bottom of the stream.

backyard pond lit up at night

So there are my tips for creating a natural looking backyard stream to mimic a babbling brook that you would see in the woods.

Here’s a quick video that shows how to build a natural garden stream with a waterfall and lights. The end result is stunning.


Do you have any questions about building a stream? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Backyard Ponds and Water Gardens that you may find interesting.

Don’t forget to pin this article so you can come back to it later.

backyard stream construction
creating a backyard stream

Also, check out the Must-Have Pond Products page where I list the essential pond products to make life as a pond owner much easier!

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more