Garden with a stream side on it.

How to Create a Lush Stream-Side in Your Garden

Take advantage of permanently moist soil, or areas near streams, to grow some of the many beautiful plants that associate well with water. Primulas, sedges, and horsetails all look at home in this environment, and thrive in the damp, humid conditions found there.

When to start: Spring.

At their best: Spring to summer.

Time to complete: 3 hours.

You will need: Well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, spade and pond liner,

Plants you could use: Canna indica, Sedge – Carex comans, Primula pulverulenta – Bartley hybrids, Horsetail – Equisetum hyemale, Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’, Dryopteris filix-mas.

Create a stream

To make a stream, dig a shallow, sloping trench with a large hole at the lower end. Then add a pump (see Tips, below) to move the water.

Prepare to plant

If the soil is dry, consider creating a bog garden. Even if your soil is damp, add some well-rotted organic matter to further increase its moisture-holding capacity.

Planting and aftercare

Arrange the plants in naturalistic drifts along the banks in groups of threes and fives, where possible. Plant at the same depth as they were in their original pots. Water in the plants and mulch with chipped bark to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Water the plants frequently during their first year.

Tips: Making the water flow

Buy a pump powerful enough to push the water along the length of your trench. You will also need a power source. Place a bucket in the hole at the lower end (top right). Cover the trench and bucket with pond liner, and cut a hole where it covers the bucket. Place the pump in the bucket, and raise it up on bricks so the nozzle is above the liner (bottom right). Cover with galvanized wire mesh, and cut a hole for the water outlet (far right). Attach a long tube to the outlet and run it along the trench—water will then trickle from the top to the bottom of the trench when you turn on the pump.