How To Build A Stream In Your Backyard In 15 Steps

Cost: $500+

Time: 3+ Days

Skill Level: Average

Do you want a beautiful and unique addition that will make your backyard the talk of your neighborhood? Are you thinking about trying to do it yourself?

Then you’re in the right place! A small-scale streambed can transform any dull backyard into an inviting haven. Not only can it be a fun and interesting DIY project, but streams can have powerful visual effects in any landscape when done correctly. It’s even better when the entire process (like this one) helps you mimic the look of natural streams.

But where does one start when attempting such an ambitious task? This blog post will explain all the necessary steps for building a successful stream in your backyard so that you can reap all of the benefits.

*If you want to try building one on your own, we recommend purchasing one of the Aquascape DIY kits. You can also add streams to ecosystem ponds.


  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Gloves
  • Knife
  • Tamp
  • Level


  • Underlayment
  • EPDM pond liner
  • Small rocks
  • Large rocks
  • Gravel
  • Waterfall pump
  • Foam sealant
  • Hose kit and connections
  • Ball valves
  • Clamps
  • PVS primer
  • Cement
  • Sewage basin with rock lid
  • 2-inch hole saw bit
  • 1-inch hole saw bit

How To Build A Stream In Your Backyard

How to build a stream like this one

1. Select The Location

The first step in building a stream is selecting the optimal location for it. You should consider the shape of your yard when deciding where you want to build it. This will determine how much space you have available and what stream designs would work best.

Also, ensure that your chosen spot won’t interfere with your existing landscaping or negatively impact nearby trees or other plants.

Finally, if possible, find an area that has natural slopes, as these can help create interesting features like waterfalls in smaller streams or winding pathways in larger ones.

2. Order Any Materials

Once you’ve selected the perfect spot for your new stream, it’s time to order any materials you might need. This includes rocks, aquatic plants, pumps, and pond liners.

If this is your first time building a stream, then I highly recommend consulting a professional before ordering anything. They will be able to give tailored advice based on the size of your project and how complex its design needs to be.

3. Design Your Flowing Stream

Designing the stream

Once all of the supplies are gathered, it’s time for the fun part: designing your own backyard paradise!

When creating a design for a small stream, I suggest starting with simple geometric shapes like circles or curves since these look great without requiring too much effort.

For larger streams, try outlining meandering pathways around rocks or trees for additional character and visual interest. Just make sure that everything is secure against potential erosion from flowing water!

You might want to also add a backyard waterfall into your stream design. Waterfalls will add relaxing sounds and a beautiful visual to your backyard. You don’t have to stop with just one waterfall or even one of the types of waterfalls if you want to add more!

4. Excavate The Lower Basin

Digging out the lower basin part of this backyard stream

The lower basin is where the water from the stream will end. It can be a small pool, a little garden pond, or a gravel bed. The water will then recirculate to the top of the stream. Dig out an area that can fit the pump and anything else you’ll be adding.

5. Prep The Basin And Pump

Once your hole is ready, prepare the basin for installation by cleaning up any debris and ensuring that the surface is smooth and even. You’ll also want to install a pump at this stage. This will push the water back to the top of the stream. 

6. Add Underlayment And Liner To The Basin

After ensuring that all components are securely connected, cover them with an underlayment material like geotextile fabric or rubber matting. This will protect them from damage caused by rocks or sharp edges within the soil while also helping keep debris out of the system.

Then add the EPDM liner over the top of this layer. Make sure that it completely covers all components so they remain safe from damage due to potential puncture or wear and tear over time.  

7. Excavate The Streambed

This will form the basic shape of your stream and allow you to create an area for water to flow through your yard. Dig out the soil with a shovel or trencher, making sure that the sides are sloped so that water can move freely through it.

Remember that the depth of your stream is important – it should be deep enough so that water won’t evaporate quickly but not so deep that it threatens nearby plants or trees.  

8. Create Waterfall Drops

Once you have your streambed excavated, you can start working on creating waterfall drops. You’ll basically be digging steps into the streambed, creating drops for the waterfall.

You’ll also need rocks of various sizes and shapes. They should all be similar in color so they look cohesive when placed together. Place these rocks in rows along each side of the stream bed until you have created a gentle cascading effect. This will provide an aesthetically pleasing look as well as help slow down and spread out the flow of water.

9. Add Underlayment And Liner To The Streambed

Adding liner to the streambed

Make sure that all seams in the liner material are sealed properly with silicone adhesive so that no water escapes or leaks out of your stream area.

10. Add Underlayment And Liner To The Upper Pool

To ensure your stream area remains watertight, make sure to use silicone adhesive on all seams of the liner material.

11. Complete The Waterfalls

Start by selecting rocks for the base of the waterfall. Look for rocks that are flat on one side and have smooth surfaces. These will be easy to stack and form the foundation of your stream. You’ll also need large rocks to build up the sides of your waterfall, as well as smaller stones to fill in gaps between larger rocks. Use an adhesive designed specifically for water features to secure the rocks in place and make sure they don’t come loose

12. Add Foam Sealant

Adding foam sealant

Once you’ve built up most of your waterfall, it’s time to add foam sealant around each rock layer. Foam sealant is a special product designed specifically for water features that helps keep water from escaping from behind your waterfall structure (it also prevents critters from getting inside too).

Make sure you get high-quality foam sealant so that it can withstand different temperatures throughout the year without cracking or breaking down over time. Apply generous amounts of foam sealant in between each layer of rock using a caulking gun. This will help ensure that no water escapes while keeping things looking neat and tidy!  

13. Finishing Touches And Additions

Stream with lights

Once you’ve finished building up your waterfall structure and sealing it with foam sealant, you can start adding finishing touches.

Consider adding native plant species along the edges of the stream so that wildlife can take advantage of their presence. Just make sure not to introduce any invasive species into their habitat.

If you want something more decorative than plants, consider adding small sculptures around the edges of your stream or underwater lights. These will bring an extra element of beauty to your outdoor space!

14. Clean Your River Rocks

Once all of your rocks are in place, give them a thorough scrubbing with a pressure washer or hose to remove dirt and debris. This will help your stream water clear up more quickly. Cleaning your rocks also helps better prepare them to house beneficial bacteria, which filter the water to help it stay cleaner and clearer.

15. Turn On Your Backyard Stream And Check The Water Flow

Checking the stream and waterfall flow

Finally, turn on your backyard stream and watch as water flows through it! This part of the process can be very exciting as you see all of your hard work come together in one beautiful feature for your outdoor space. 

But it is also the part of the project where you make sure everything works as it should. Look for leaks and make sure the water flows and drops as you want it to. Make any changes as necessary to create your ideal backyard stream.

Streamline Your Water Feature Project With Premier Ponds

You have now learned the basics of how to build a stream in your backyard. If you’re looking to make your backyard a more tranquil and peaceful place, then look no further than Premier Ponds for help.

Our streamlined process allows us to provide reliable and trustworthy solutions for creating a wonderful space for you and your family. It is our goal to provide you with an unforgettable outdoor experience that will last for years to come.

So if you’re ready to take that next step towards adding a spectacular water feature project in your backyard, then fill out our contact form today. We guarantee you will love it!