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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Oien

A river runs through it

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

My current project has me working on tricky part of a property that has been suffering from years of fast water and erosion issues. In this case, heavy rain has caused sediment deposits from the road that has encroached on the lawn, and simultaneously caused the steep hillside to further collapse. The end result was a yard that has slowly been shrinking over the years.

A dry creek bed collects and slows down fast moving surface water. The stone lining the bottom of the dry creek, combined with a layer of permeable geotextile fabric bed acts as a sediment filter, keeping road gravel and other foreign particulates from migrating to places it doesn't belong. This is often seen done with quarried riprap - the grey stone you typically see under highway overpasses, or lining industrial park retention ponds.

A more aesthetically pleasing and natural way is to use native stone harvested on site for the creek bed and hillside. Each stone is hand placed, interlocked with one another, and stepped up the bank. Unlike processed angular rip rap, these have been smoothed and rounded by nature over hundreds of millennia, and when deliberately placed, their shapes create natural nooks and crannies for smaller creatures to seek shelter amongst, and travel to and from a nearby small stream. Stones with a flat side when possible are set horizontally, creating a very informal step effect, allowing easier access for larger wildlife or grandkids...who are both likely looking for crawdads under the rocks.

The retaining walls, built from a leftover stockpile of stone from a past project, create a crisp, defined edge to the yard and a scenic place to sit for morning coffee.


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