How To Build A Stream In Your Charlotte Backyard

Find out how to build a stream for your Charlotte backyard! This is the way that any pond contractor worth their salt should build a stream in your backyard.

Transform Your Yard With A Flowing Stream

How to build a stream like this in your Charlotte backyard

Ever dreamt of having a peaceful, babbling brook right in your backyard? Curious about how you can turn that dream into reality?

In this post, you’ll learn how to build a stream in your backyard.

By the end, you’ll have a beautiful water feature that adds tranquility and charm to your outdoor space (or know that you want to let a professional do your Charlotte pond construction project).

Overview Of How To Build A Stream

  1. Select the optimal location for your stream
  2. Order any necessary materials
  3. Design your flowing stream
  4. Excavate the lower basin
  5. Prep the basin and pump
  6. Add underlayment and liner to the basin
  7. Excavate the streambed
  8. Create waterfall drops
  9. Add underlayment and liner to the streambed
  10. Add underlayment and liner to the upper pool
  11. Complete the waterfalls
  12. Add foam sealant
  13. Finishing touches and additions
  14. Clean your river rocks
  15. Turn on your backyard stream and check the water flow

Tools And Materials Needed

When building a stream in your backyard, having the right tools and materials is crucial for a successful stream. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Shovel: Essential for digging the stream bed and lower basin.
  • Wheelbarrow: Helps transport soil, rocks, and other materials.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands while working.
  • Knife: Useful for cutting the pond liner and other materials.
  • Tamp: Compacts the soil and ensures a stable surface.
  • Level: Ensures your stream bed and other structures are even.


  • Underlayment: Protects the pond liner from sharp objects and roots.
  • EPDM pond liner: A durable rubber liner that holds water.
  • Small and large rocks: For the stream bed and waterfalls.
  • Gravel: Helps with drainage and adds a natural look.
  • Waterfall pump: Circulates the water, creating a flowing stream.
  • Foam sealant: Secures rocks and prevents water leaks.
  • Hose kit and connections: Directs the water flow throughout the stream.
  • Ball valves: Controls the flow of water.
  • Clamps: Secures hoses and connections.
  • PVC primer and cement: Ensures strong, leak-free connections.
  • Sewage basin with rock lid: Acts as a reservoir for the water pump.
  • Hole saw bits: These are used for drilling holes in the basin and other materials.

Selecting The Optimal Location For Your Stream

Choosing the best location for your stream is a critical step. Here’s what to consider to ensure your stream enhances your outdoor space:

Stream Size: Determine the appropriate size of your stream based on the available yard space. Balance the visual impact with maintenance needs. A small stream may be easier to manage but can still add charm to your backyard.

Stream Slope: Utilize natural slopes in your yard to help with water flow. If your yard is flat, you might need to create an artificial slope. This ensures that the water flows smoothly from the upper pool to the lower basin.

Visibility From The House: Place your stream where it is easily visible from key areas, such as your patio or living room. This ensures you can enjoy the sight and sound of flowing water from inside your home.

Interaction With Outdoor Space: Consider how people will interact with the stream. Plan for pathways, seating areas, and other landscape elements. Ensure the stream integrates well with existing landscaping and plants.

Designing Your Flowing Stream

Designing your stream involves creativity and planning. Here’s how to create a beautiful and natural-looking stream:

Simple Geometric Shapes For Small Streams: For smaller streams, use simple geometric shapes like circles and curves. These shapes are easy to design and can still look stunning.

Meandering Pathways For Larger Streams: Larger streams can have meandering pathways that wind around rocks and plants. This creates a more natural appearance and adds visual interest.

Incorporating Waterfalls: Adding a backyard waterfall can enhance both the visual and auditory appeal of your stream. Consider including one or more waterfalls, depending on the slope and design of your stream. Waterfalls add the soothing sound of running water and can be a focal point in your garden.

Do you want to know what backyard stream designs you can choose from?

Preparing The Site

The preparation phase is crucial for ensuring your stream looks natural and functions correctly. Here’s how to get started:

Excavating The Lower Basin

Begin by digging out the lower basin where the water from the stream will collect.

This can be a small pool, a garden pond, or a gravel bed.

The basin should be deep enough to house the pump and hold enough water to keep your stream flowing smoothly.

Make sure the basin is slightly larger than your planned size to allow for adjustments and to accommodate the pond liner.

This step ensures that the water will be recirculated efficiently to the top pool.

Prepping The Basin And Pump

Once the basin is excavated, clear out any debris to create a smooth surface.

Install the waterfall pump in the basin, ensuring it is positioned correctly to facilitate optimal water flow.

Connect the pump to a hose kit that will direct the water back to the upper pool.

Using foam sealant around the edges of the pump and hose connections will help prevent leaks and keep the setup secure.

Laying The Foundation

Creating a strong foundation is essential for the longevity of your stream. This involves adding layers that protect the liner and ensure a stable base.

Adding Underlayment And Liner To The Basin

Start by placing an underlayment material, such as geotextile fabric or rubber matting, in the lower basin. This layer protects the EPDM pond liner from punctures caused by sharp rocks or roots.

Next, lay the pond liner over the underlayment, ensuring it extends beyond the edges of the basin. This tight liner will hold the pond water securely and prevent leaks.

Discover the best pond liner for your project.

Excavating The Streambed

Digging the stream bed is the next step.

Create a trench that follows the planned path of your stream, making sure the depth is consistent and appropriate for the water flow.

The stream bed should slope gently to encourage a natural flow of water.

Use the soil from the trench to build up the banks, shaping them to blend seamlessly with your landscape.

Building The Stream

With the foundation in place, it’s time to bring your stream to life by creating the main water flow and adding visual interest.

Creating Waterfall Drops

To add dynamic movement and the soothing sound of running water, create waterfall drops along the stream bed.

Dig steps into the bed to form small cascades where the water can drop from one level to the next.

Use a mix of large rocks and smaller rocks to build up these steps, securing them with foam sealant to ensure stability and prevent water from escaping behind the rocks.

Adding Underlayment And Liner To The Streambed

Just like in the basin, place underlayment in the stream bed to protect the liner.

Then, lay the rubber liner, making sure it covers the entire stream bed and extends up the banks.

Seal all seams with silicone adhesive to create a watertight barrier. This will ensure that your stream area holds water effectively and directs it along the intended path.

Adding Underlayment And Liner To The Upper Pool

The upper pool is where the water will start its journey down the stream.

Lay underlayment and the EPDM liner here as well, using silicone adhesive on all seams for a watertight seal.

Ensure the liner overlaps with the liner from the stream bed to create a continuous, leak-free channel for the water flow.

Completing The Waterfalls

Waterfalls add a mesmerizing touch to your stream, enhancing both its visual appeal and the soothing sound of flowing water. Here’s how to perfect this element:

Selecting Rocks

Choosing the right rocks is crucial for creating natural-looking waterfalls.

Start with flat rocks for the base of each waterfall step. These stones provide a stable foundation and help create the desired cascading effect.

Large rocks should be used to build up the sides of the waterfalls, while smaller rocks can be placed to fill gaps and add detail. Make sure the colors and textures of the rocks blend well to mimic natural streams.

Securing Rocks With Adhesive

To ensure your rocks stay in place, use a high-quality water feature adhesive. This product is designed to hold up in wet conditions and prevent rocks from shifting.

Carefully position each rock and apply the adhesive generously at contact points. This step is crucial for maintaining the stability and integrity of your waterfalls.

Adding Foam Sealant

After the rocks are secured, apply waterfall foam sealant around each rock layer.

This foam expands to fill gaps and crevices, preventing water from escaping the stream bed. It also helps direct water flow over the rocks, enhancing the waterfall effect. Foam sealant not only keeps your structure intact but also contributes to a more realistic appearance.

Take a closer look at how to build a pond waterfall.

Finishing Touches

The final steps in building your stream involve adding the details that make your water feature truly special. These touches can turn a basic stream into a beautiful and thriving ecosystem.

Adding Native Plants And Decorations

Incorporate native aquatic plants along the edges of your stream to create a garden stream that looks like it’s been part of your landscape forever. Plants like water lilies, cattails, and pickerelweed thrive in wet conditions and add a touch of natural beauty.

Additionally, consider adding decorative boulders and stepping stones to provide visual interest and practical pathways across the stream.

Cleaning River Rocks

Before filling your stream with water, clean all river rocks thoroughly.

Use a pressure washer or hose to remove dirt and debris. This step is essential for clear water and helps the beneficial bacteria establish themselves on the rocks. Clean rocks also improve the overall appearance of your stream area.

Turning On Your Stream And Checking Water Flow

Finally, it’s time to turn on your stream and watch the water flow.

Start the pump and observe the water as it moves through your stream. Look for any leaks or areas where the water might not be flowing as intended.

Adjust rocks if necessary to create the perfect water flow. This is also a great time to ensure the waterfall foam sealant is doing its job effectively.

Do you want to know how the pros should be building backyard koi ponds?

Streamline Your Backyard Dreams With Charlotte Backyard Ponds

Building a stream can be a rewarding project, but sometimes you need a little help from the experts. Charlotte Backyard Ponds specializes in creating stunning water features that transform your outdoor space into a tranquil paradise.

Let us take the guesswork out of how to build a stream and ensure your project is a success. Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call to get started on your dream backyard!