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Moosa Creek Blog

Dry Stream Beds

Creekside Chat


Capturing and sinking water on your property is an important way to harvest precious rainwater. You can harvest water safely by digging level-bottomed swales with wider ponding areas, and turning it into a rocked dry streambed.  There are many natives that will enjoy the seasonal water and make your streambed look natural. These plants should be placed along the sides or top of a water catchment feature.

Scarlet, Apple Blossom, white or any of the yarrows are perfect to line the sides of a seasonal stream. Their frilly leaves and tall umbellate flower heads attract beneficial insects in spring and summer, and the seed heads feed birds in the fall. Paseo Rancho Verbena has purple flowers in low-growing mounds and looks fantastic tucked between rounded stones. The strap-like leaves of Douglas Iris keep green most of the year, so while enjoying dry soil it also gives a wetland look to a dry streambed. The dark blue flower color is amazing in the spring. 

Feathery mounds of Deergrass move In the breeze and look amazing, especially when paired with the smaller bluish mounds of California Fescue. Basket Rush makes the streambed look authentic.

Hummingbird Sage spreads around rocks and does particularly well in partial shade. Try planting it and Woodland Strawberry in the shade of the purple flowering Desert Willow which is found naturally growing in dry stream beds. Toyon’s red winter berries and toothed evergreen leaves,  and the heart-shaped deciduous leaves and pink spring flowers of Western Redbud would also cast some shade and round out a seasonal streambed. Of course, if you have the space, plant a majestic Western Sycamore that will hold hundreds of gallons of water while serving as a perch for hawks. 

Harvesting rainwater safely and attractively in your yard is essential to prevent runoff and to help keep our water table viable. Landscaping it with natives will help feed birds and butterflies as well as make it look beautiful. 

Diane and Miranda Kennedy operate Finch Frolic Garden Permaculture, at www.vegetariat.com.

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