Landscaping Ideas for Backyard Creeks

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Use rocks and plants to landscape your backyard creek.
Image Credit: elenaleonova/iStock/GettyImages

A rushing creek calls for family and friends to sit and enjoy the sounds and scents that surround the outdoor oasis. Landscaping ideas for backyard creeks can increase the aesthetic as well as the sound of the outdoor water feature. While a small creek, waterfall or other water feature that flows in your outdoor living space is beautiful all on its own, adding rocks, plants and decor can significantly improve it.

Landscaping Backyard Creeks With Rocks

A creek that winds its way through the backyard has more than likely already carved a unique and attractive path. However, adding rocks and boulders to the banks can significantly enhance the natural water feature. Add flat landscaping boulders over the edge of the running creek to create areas to sit and watch the water flow. This also creates shaded areas for fish, frogs and other wildlife that inhabit the creek.

If you have the space, a few well-placed boulders can create a rippling effect and increase the bubbling and tumbling sounds of the water. Make sure to have an area that is large and deep enough to hold any water that may back up behind the boulders. Choose boulders that are not too large that they will cause the water to stop flowing or significantly reduce the natural flow. Rocks that are too large or piled heavily in a major flow area can cause flooding and other problems around the creek.

Plants to Populate the Banks

Small flowers, ground covers and larger blooming bushes and evergreen trees can add color and pizzazz to a plain creek bank. Choose plants that do well outdoors in the region and are not affected by rising or falling water levels. Native plants along the banks of a creek can also stop fertilizer and pesticides from surrounding lawns and landscaping from flowing into the natural water feature.

Wild geranium (​Geranium maculatum​) and blazing star (​Liatris spicata​) are hardy and can offer pops of color. Marsh marigolds (​Caltha palustris​), calico aster (​Symphyotrichum lateriflorum​) and other ground covers will give a lush look to the creek as they cling to the soil and hang over the banks and trail into the water.

Bushes and trees can keep soil from eroding from the edges of creek banks. Make sure your chosen bushes or trees, such as mountain laurel (​Kalmia latifolia​) or white spruce, (​Picea glauca​), work well for the space and the area.

Decor for Backyard Creeks

The backyard creek is often a destination for anyone visiting. Make the area as comfortable as possible for daydreaming and exploring. Place a wooden bridge over the creek to create a place where you can go to watch the water or to cross over to a patch of grass with low-lying lounge chairs, a swing or other relaxing and comfortable furniture.

Create a miniature magical land with fairy houses, miniature ladders, slides and bridges over rocks to spark the imagination of kids of any age. Large glass globes or gazing balls nestled along the grasses of the creek banks will reflect sunlight during the day and moonlight at night.


Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at

View Work