How I Built a Rock Riverbed Run-off Trench

6 Materials
$50
2 Days
Medium

My house doesn't have rain gutters, so on the rare occasion that it rains heavily, the water runs off the roof and pools up around our back patio. I thought it might be cool to dig a run-off trench and incorporate it into my plans for my 2019 landscaping project. Read on to find out how I built this rock riverbed run-off trench! It looks AMAZING!

First day of digging...oh boy.
First day of digging...oh boy.

I've known for months that this was something I wanted to do, but I had to wait for a decent rain for the ground to be soft enough to dig. The vision in my head was to have a footbridge to cross the trench...and out of the blue, a rancher friend of mine asked me if I would like to have a footbridge. WHAT? ARE YOU PRANKING ME? HOW DID YOU KNOW I WANTED A FOOTBRIDGE????? (It was more than irony, it was FATE!) Yes! Of course I want a footbridge! So, he built this simple bridge with three planks of horse fencing and two cross pieces.


Weeks later it finally rained, and I started digging.

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

I spread my digging over 2 days, but all in all it took me about 3 hours to dig out approximately 12 feet to the downhill slope. The trench is about 16 inches wide. (My flat head shovel and I are best buds...we have accomplished many projects together.)

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

Here is the view of my trench from the bottom of the slope. At first I thought I would buy river rock at Home Depot to fill the trench, but I have lots of beautiful, natural rock and broken down boulders on my property, so I decided to "harvest" rock instead of spending money. In the end, I think it turned out better.

Filling the trench with rock.
Filling the trench with rock.

To secure my bridge, I dug holes for the footings on each side of the trench and then buried them with the loose dirt.

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

Although I liked the rustic look of the natural wood, I'm a sucker for staining. So I gave my bridge a coat of kona stain.

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

After hours of digging and lugging rock, I was exhausted...but I was not done! I gave myself a few days of rest and recovery, then I made a trip to Home Depot and bought some Alyssum flowers. I ended up spending about $50 on them, but luckily I had gotten a gift card for Christmas, so it didn't hurt my wallet. On our property, we have a bad have a rabbit problem, but Alyssums are stinky and the rabbits tend to not eat them. I planted the flowers on the outside edges of the trench between the rocks...I'm stoked the way it turned out!

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

Here's another view of my finished trench and footbridge.

how i built a rock riverbed run off trench

If you'd like to read the full story of the Rock Riverbed Run-off Trench, you can find it on my blog. https://www.janesreallife.com/rock-riverbed-run-off-trench/ Thank you for reading, I look forward to sharing more about my landscaping projects this year!

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info
Lisa Jane Long

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Go

Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Nancy
    on Jan 8, 2019

    I have something similar where my downspout and sump pump empty .My lawn slops and the water follows the rocks to the edging onto my sidewalk- like a backwards C instead of to the end of rocks and the lowered stone edging. I am unable to build up the sloping. Any ideas before spring????


    • Lisa Jane Long
      6 days ago

      I would have to see some pictures to see exactly what you are describing. It may be that you have to re-rout the water somehow...I'm not sure.

  • Jojo
    on Jan 8, 2019

    Great job! You totally ROCK! lol Have you thought about adding a rain chain to serve as a guide for the water coming from the roof? They can make beautiful music in the rain. I did the same thing at my home where we had a problem "corner" where the water just seemed to pool. I believe it was a boulder in the ground that was causing the problem since we seem to grow rocks and boulders like crazy. However, I did lay down some geotextile...you know, the black fabric that the landscapers often use to control weeds, but I used it to control any future erosion. Works like a charm! I love the look of a dry riverbed. So much prettier and natural. Bet the bunnies enjoy the new riverbed too! ;-)

  • Jane Doe
    8 days ago

    What's to stop the dirt from eroding under the rock?

    • Lisa Jane Long
      6 days ago

      If I lived somewhere where it rained a lot I would be concerned more about erosion. As little rain as we get, I think the rocks will help keep the trench in tact. Time will tell I suppose.

Join the conversation

2 of 17 comments
  • Vickie Otto Powell
    17 hours ago

    I don’t have a question. We were thinking of doing this also. But... I would put plastic in the trench before putting the rocks in.


  • Mary Hise
    31 minutes ago

    I think you did a great job and I love the fact that you used things that you already had and keeping it native to the area

Your comment...