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How To Build A Stream In Your Backyard In 7 Steps

See The Process For Building A Backyard Stream For Your Maryland, DC, Or Northern Virginia Home

You can see the process contractor’s take (or should be taking) when building a stream in your backyard. Let’s take the mystery out of the process. It starts with planning the design and ends by adding any additions to make the experience of owning a stream even better.

You can find the 7 steps (and a video of us building a backyard stream) in the post below:

The Best Kind Of Streaming

“Yeah, I mean, who needs Netflix and streaming when you can relax next to an actual stream?”

Joe looks at Chandler curiously. “What do you mean an actual stream is better than streaming?” Chandler chuckles for a bit before continuing, “Streams are peaceful, relaxing, and great for family time. You actually talk to each other. Movies and shows, not so much.”

“Ok, but getting Netflix is a lot easier than building a backyard stream,” Joe points out. “Sure, but aren’t the best things in life the ones that don’t come easiest?” Chandler shoots back.

Joe pauses for a minute before asking, “Ok, so everyone knows how to get Netflix, but how do you build a stream in your backyard?”

Chandler smiles before telling Joe about his backyard stream project.

How To Build A Stream In 7 Steps

  1. Design your stream
  2. Mark the boundary
  3. Dig the stream
  4. Lay down liner
  5. Add filters
  6. Put in rocks
  7. Install any additions

“I don’t really understand all the steps here. Do you mind filling in the details?” Joe asks. “Not a problem, let’s do this!” Chandler replies happily (he loves nerding out about his stream).

Designing, Marking, And Digging A Stream

“Planning is the most important part.”

Working with a contractor makes everything easier. You can come up with backyard stream designs and plans and contractors can help you make them a reality. In all honesty, not every design or idea can work in every backyard. 

“Not all of our ideas worked, but the contractor we hired did their best to make them happen,” Chandler says.

It’s good to keep in mind there needs to be some sort of slope for the water to go down. Also, place it somewhere it’s easy to see from windows, a deck, or wherever you’ll be seeing it from.

The top and bottom of the stream need basins for the water to collect. You can make a waterfall by digging a “stair-step” into the stream bed.

Once you have the location and plan you can mark out the boundary with spray paint and dig it out. Dig down about 6-8 inches and around 2-4 feet wide.

“And now we have our stream bed outlined.”

Liner, Filters, And Rocks

“Then comes the liner, right?” Joe guesses correctly.

The liner needs to fit precisely into and slightly around the stream bed. This keeps the water inside the stream. You’ll want to check it at this point to make sure the water stays in it.

“That’s a great idea. Don’t want to finish it just to find out it doesn’t work properly.”

At the same time you’re installing your liner you’ll want to add in your filters too. This way you can make sure the liner fits exactly around the filter. Cover the excess liner with soil and stones to hide it. Speaking of stones, you can add rocks and gravel to your streambed too.

“The rocks make the stream look more natural and beautiful, don’t you agree?” asks Chandler. “They sure do!” Joe replies.

He moves on to the last step on how to build a stream.

Additions And Turning It On

“Additions? Like what?”

Underwater lights, extra filters, plants, and decorations like statues can all make your stream experience even better!

Filters help keep the water cleaner and clearer. The plants are beautiful and make the stream seem more natural, as though your house was built around it. The lights help you enjoy it at night and create a beautiful scene.

“Now THAT’S a great idea! I bet it looks awesome at night,” Joe says excitedly. “And that’s basically how you build a stream in your backyard,” Chandler finishes.

You can learn more about pondless water features like streams >>

You May Be Onto Something

“I might have to talk to the wife about getting something like this,” Joe says thoughtfully. 

Chandler looks at him excitedly, saying “Do it! Once the wife and kids get home we’re going to spend time together out here. We’ve been spending more time together since we got one and I’m sure you will too!”

“In fact,” he continues, “I can tell you about my contractor so you can get a quote for building a stream from them.”