How to Build a Pond Stream

How to build a pond stream

A brook gives a garden pond a natural and romantic flair. The rippling of the stream has a relaxing effect. If you already have a garden pond, you can install a stream afterward. If you would like to create a garden pond first, you can consider the brook run during the planning. Your garden should be large enough for the stream to come into its own. You will need a pump to pump the water up into the stream. You can use small cascades to make the slope more natural.

Differences Between a Stream and a Natural Creek

Few garden owners are lucky enough to have a natural stream in their garden. However, with an artificially created stream, the pond can be made close to nature. There are some significant differences between an artificial stream and a natural stream:

  • In an artificial stream, the water circulates, even if it is well filtered.
  • In a natural stream, fresh water is constantly flowing.
  • To prevent the water in the artificial stream from seeping away, the subsoil must be well sealed.
  • In the natural stream, the water is always in contact with the stream bottom.

A natural stream has a hyporheic interstitial. This is an ecological habitat in the cavity system of pores and gaps — deposited sediments in the stream form this hyporheic. The water flows slowly there and harbors many small creatures and aquatic animals in the early development stages. They find food and shelter there.


If you have a natural stream in your garden, you must create an inlet to the garden pond and an outlet back to the stream. Attention: Maybe you need the permission of the responsible water management authority for this.

Better Water Quality With the Stream

Even if an artificial stream does not have a hyporheic, it can improve the garden pond’s water quality. This is especially beneficial for a fish pond. The water flowing through it can be purified by riparian and aquatic plants, which filter out excess nutrients and counteract the formation of algae. As it passes through, the water is oxygenated. You can further enhance this effect with cascades. The stream provides a natural water filter, but you can not do without an additional filter and pump.

Different Types of Creeks

Before you get to planning, you should consider what type of creek fits best in your garden. This is a matter of space and the natural features of your garden. Your garden style will play a role in your choice of a creek, as will the existing observation points from which you can see the stream.

Meadow Brook

Meadow brook flows slowly and has many small impoundments caused by stones and bushes. It would be best if you positioned many flowering marsh plants, shrubs, and grasses near the stream

Romantic Stream

Perennials and shrubs give the feel of a woodland stream. You should not do without marsh plants, even if you have a romantic stream. The stream meanders around the plants. You will need a corresponding amount of space in the garden for a romantic brook run.

Wild Brook With Many Plants

A wild brook with many plants is also suitable for smaller gardens. It has a small cross-section and a small amount of water. The water ripples loudly and at high speed through clusters of small-growing marsh plants.

Mountain Stream

A mountain stream has rocks and boulders and a slope that increases flow velocity. It would help if you used plants sparingly. Mosses and grasses are suitable.


A waterfall delights with a loud splash and a broad front. The water is dammed up in front of the waterfall. The stream becomes more expansive at the waterfall.

The Planning of the Brook Course

Once you have decided on the s stream form and for a garden pond, first select the suitable location. The place should be preferably semi-shaded so that in the summer, not too much water is lost due to solar radiation. If there is no pond yet, you should think about the different zones:

  • Shore zone with a depth of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).
  • shallow water zone with a depth of 8 to 20 inches (20 to 50 centimeters)
  • Deepwater zone with a depth of at least 20 inches (50 centimeters).

Measure the available space and sketch as accurately to scale as possible. In the sketch, draw the different zones. It would be best to keep your drawing in a safe place even after you finish your garden pond with the stream. It will serve as a basis for the purchase of plants and their arrangement.

Options for the Stream Bed

A liner pond is best if you are designing a garden pond with a streambed. It can be made more extensive than a prefabricated pond and looks more natural. The foil should be strong enough. A pond liner calculator on the Internet will help you determine the required amount of liner depending on the pond’s size and depth. You can use different materials for the stream depending on the size and local conditions:

Pond Liner

With pond liner, you can make the stream course as natural as the garden pond. To prevent the stream from slipping, you will need stabilizing elements. You can also get sanded stone foils in stores.

Concrete Streambed

You can cast the stream bed from concrete. It is characterized by stability and long life. Since later corrections are almost impossible, the work requires special care. The concrete is not waterproof and must be treated. You can do this with a liquid pond liner for spraying or spreading, or sealing powder, which you mix with water and apply.

Prefabricated Stream Systems

You can buy prefabricated stream systems made of plastic shells in different variations. These ready-made systems are suitable for beginners because they are easy to use. Plastic systems are well suited for smaller streams.

If you want to create your creek with foil, you should think about the capillary barrier. It prevents plants from growing into the stream and drawing water from it.

If you use plastic stream shells, you should ensure a watertight connection of the transitions. Glue the plastic shells about 8 inches (20 centimeters) overlapping on a piece of foil. For stabilization, apply several layers of mounting foam. Use pond fleece to underlay the foil to protect it from root penetration by plants and stones. The stream shells’ hollow profiles are suitable for laying the hose line of the pump from the pond bottom to the source stone of the stream.

Now let’s get to work!

The Excavation

First, mark the pond and stream with the desired contours and the appropriate size based on your sketch. The best way to do this is to use a garden hose of the proper length or a colored string. Use a spade to trace this contour. In the next step, remove the turf from the inside and outside. A diligence work is the earth excavation in the desired depth and the garden pond with the appropriate zones. You mark the zones again with the garden hose or with a string. First, excavate the shore zone, the shallow water zone, and the deepwater zone. The excavated earth is stored in between because you need it later for the shore area’s design.


If you design the garden pond and the stream with foil, you should excavate the soil about 4 inches (10 centimeters) deeper. A layer of construction sand protects the foil from damage.

The Slope for the Creek

When excavating the stream, you need to consider the slope, depending on how you want to design your stream. For your creek to give the impression of flowing water, the difference in elevation between the source outlet and the pond level should not be too significant. A slope angle of 5 degrees is sufficient for a run of 16 to 33 feet (5 to 10 meters). The streambed should not be too broad. For the width, you should be guided by the depth. A width of 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) is sufficient for a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters).

To create the slope, you can use the excavated soil from the pond.

Placement of Foil

Once you have excavated the pond and stream, inspect the bottom for roots and stones that you need to remove to avoid damaging the liner. First, you have to line everything with a pond liner to protect it from damage and stabilize the pond and stream. You should lay the pond fleece overlapping and stick it with tape. There must be no gaps. Finally, apply the foil as smooth as possible. Make sure that the foil is not under tension. The stream and pond must be seamlessly connected so that no water is lost. Use stones to fix the foil at the edge. As a capillary barrier for the pond and stream, pull the liner up a few inches beyond the edge of the bank. Fold the foil over.

Brook Run With Barrages

Small barrages not only make the brook run look natural, but they are also helpful so that the pump does not have to run constantly. The water accumulates when it is not pumped. The barrages prevent the stream from drying out. Such barrages are best created in the case of a creek course made of foil.

Lay a flex-pipe under the foil across the direction of flow. Pile a small mound of earth on top of it. Place the foil over it. Use stones to weigh down the liner to prevent the water from flowing down into the streambed below. Both belly banks must have the same level. Use a wooden batten and a level for leveling. This will prevent water from flowing over the lower bank into the surrounding area.

Choosing the Right Pump

To pump the water from the pond into the stream, you should use a submersible pump. It is placed in the center of the pond slightly above the pond’s bottom so that it does not suck mud or become clogged. The pump pumps the pond water into the stream through an underground hose line. You can conceal the end of the hose over a source stone.

Alternatively, you can install the pump after the pond filter. The stream then serves as a self-cleaning section. This is useful for a swimming pond or a fish pond. You should pay attention to a reasonable flow rate when choosing the pump. The pumping capacity decreases with increasing head. Therefore, you should not rely on the manufacturer’s specifications for the delivery rate. It would help if you multiplied a delivery rate of 0.4 gallons/min (1.5 liters/min) by the stream width to choose the pump with the correct delivery rate. For a stream width of 12 inches (30 centimeters), the delivery rate should be 10.5 gallons/min (40 liters/min).

A Beautiful Design of Pond and Stream

Finally, apply a suitable substrate to the edges of the film to plant the riparian zone. For aquatic plants in the pond and stream, you should use planting baskets. They allow for easier planting and can be removed if you need to divide the plants. You can design your stream channel with stones, but the type of stream channel should guide you. The design needs to match the creek and the style of your garden. The plants you use will also depend on the type of stream. The choice of plants also depends on the light conditions.


A stream makes a garden pond look natural, but you should plan your garden pond and stream carefully. The best material for pond and stream is foil. If you install weirs in the stream, the pump will have to work less. With the pump, it depends on the correct flow rate. With the right plants, you can make the pond and the stream close to nature.

Florian Egert

I am Florian Egert, the owner of I live with my wife and two children in Germany in a small village in the countryside.

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