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Blog 16 - Making the lower stream


The lower garden in 1994. We finished planting and making paths edged with logs and filled with bark. We put a large wooden bridge on one of the paths. We then decided that the bridge should go over something – perhaps a short stream? I’m afraid we don’t do things by halves!!! The initial 8ft stream just grew and grew and ended up as 48ft. This is how we did it!

In 2001 we started at the bottom and created the hole for a 75 gallon sump and 3000 gallons an hour pump

I did have comments like: “when you’re in a hole you’ve got to know when to stop digging”!!! I dug down until I reached bedrock and then had to call it a day. It wasn’t easy digging and getting the soil out of such a confined area. The children had a great time modelling the clay!

This is the view from our little summer house

The birds don’t realise we are so close!

We worked our way up the stream, doing sections at a time. We didn’t want to use plastic sheeting so used concrete and York stone paving instead.

We hammered small triangles of rock and paving slabs into the stream bed to stabilise the soil and used reinforcing iron in the concrete.

We only had a drop of 3ft along the main stream bed so each section had to be fairly long, with a small drop.

We created some planting holes in the concrete edge by cementing around plant pots to keep the shape.

We needed another bridge as the stream crossed a second path.

How were we going to start the stream? It wouldn’t look right just coming up out of the ground. We built a mound by importing large rocks, some weighing two and a half hundred weight each. We also brought in 11 tons of top soil!

There was a sense of urgency to get it finished since we were going on holiday to China in October. We set up a gazebo and lights and worked well into the evenings in September.

We bought five sections of precast concrete to make the cascade – we weren’t confident that our concrete would remain watertight if the mound settled. At least with the precast sections it would allow for movement in the soil. The only problem was that the middle section of the five leaked! We took it back to the garden centre some distance away – only to find that all the similar sections they had leaked as well! We went off for a pub lunch whilst someone from the garden centre raced off a considerable distance to their supplier to find a sound section!!



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A lot of hard work but well worth it. The stream looks as if it has always been there - a natural part of the landscape. Congratulations.

1 May, 2008


Glad they didn't leave you down the hole! What a huge project - makes mine look miniscule in comparison.

1 May, 2008


4seasons you don't do things by half always an awful lot of hard work goes into your projects and it does show.

On the plus side of things after all your hard work you are rewarded with a stunning show garden...I just wonder do you ever get the chance to sit down and take it all in? or is it the case you just don't have the time to have a rest?

1 May, 2008


We do manage to sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the garden. We have actually cooked breakfast on an electric grill in the open air, surrounded by bird song. We try to wander around every day, at least once - but we usually have one eye open for sneaky ash tree seedlings (our major bug-bear). Sometimes, in the evening light, I can see where I can make an improvement to the planting. So we're never "off duty" but do have time to enjoy the garden, too.

1 May, 2008


Oh! Wow! Now THAT is something else. I bet it all sounds peaceful when it's running

1 May, 2008


Blumin' eck! No, you certainly don't do things by half! I'm intriged with the construction of the stream. Do you think it is all waterproof now? Do you ever have to add more water to top up the levels?

1 May, 2008


We sealed the concrete with special liquid - it made the concrete a more golden colour - matching the york stone. We stippled the concrete to roughen it and then grafted some moss onto it! The moss took well and the concrete soon blended in. There is no sign of leaking after more than 6 years There is some evaporation and the shallow pools do get algea. We use a stiff brush and change the water occasionally. We don't run the stream continuously - usually when we are in the garden on sunny days.

We have a small summer house where we can sit and look up the stream. This house is really cosy - the walls are lined with one inch thick polystyrene sheets, covered with plywood and then papered with oriental paper. Carpet tiles, a comfortable two seater settee, window blinds, radiator, CD player, dimmed lighting - what more could we ask! When the stream is running the birds come to bathe - it is all quite magical and a place to chill out!

1 May, 2008


your summerhouse sounds wonderful.... :-)

If/when I get to move house and have a bigger garden, a concrete stream/pond I think would do very well!

2 May, 2008


I built a MUCH smaller stream in my garden using a butyl liner but now I want to rip it out and repalce it with concrete. Where did you get your info about mixes, thicknes, etc, and especially how big the sump has to be? For my sump i sunk a washing machine drum upside down in the ground (within the liner) as a filter then filled all around it with pebbles with the pump in the centre of the drum. Works very well and is easy to gain access and clean all those leaves etc out that collect after a few years. However, as soon as I turn on the pump my levels drop by a couple of inches and I have to re-fill. Any thoughts?
Rob C

11 Mar, 2009


Rob - it was trial and error. If you are planning a short stream it will be easier - the overall length and the total rise of the stream will dictate how large the pools are.

We did look at books and also considered precast concrete sections but, excluding the sump and the waterfall at the top of the stream, we only had a rise of 3 foot along the whole length and these ready made sections rise up several inches in each section. We did build a mound at the start of the stream and bought some precast sections for that because we thought there would be some settling of the soil which would de-stabilise any concrete we put there.

We started at the sump end and worked our way up and did the stream in sections, each with a shallow pool. We hammered in some small triangular bits of rock into the ground to form a key. We used reinforcing iron in the base and set it in concrete using a 4:1 mix using concreting sand. We then finished off with a finer mix of concrete in the same session so that the two layers bonded together well.

Inevitably, as the stream goes uphill and the pools are formed, some concrete is very thick and some is quite thin.

The stream is 54 feet long and the pump is 3000 gallons an hour. We put in a 75 gallon sump because we estimated that the tube going from the pump and up the length of the stream would store quite a lot of water, and then the pools would take a lot more. We only switch the stream on occasionally but the water in the pools evaporates a little. We don't seem to have any leakage from the concrete.

Hope this helps.

12 Mar, 2009


Absolutely stunning.
I love this stream feature with all the waterfalls and wildlife.
Well done on an amazing project :o)

24 Mar, 2009


This all makes my little stream,about 30feet long and about 3 feet wide, look like a damp patch. There is only a fall of 18 inches or so, consequently there is hardly a discernible flow. Back to the drawing board.

5 Apr, 2009


Hello Hameryllis ~
Glad you were able to find this blog from my directions.
I'm sure your garden stream will be really attractive. :o)

5 Apr, 2009


Truly stunning !!!

19 Nov, 2009

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