Stream pictured is in it's 3rd season (early), and is coming along nicely.
I've found the key is to use as little stone as possible-even though I love stone. I am referring here to the "piling" of rock along the stream edge. This is the lazy way out. Rather than looking to berm correctly, develop good plantings, or create good shallow work----"heck let's just pile up some rock".
Stay consistent with plant material-using fewer varieties, in larger groupings.
Create shallow areas, and mini rapids-achieved by "fish-scaling" small flat stone in the creek bottom. This slight overlapping of stone is tough to do to create the rippling effect desired. I have seen a lot of experienced builders never achieve this look. Too much round stone in the creek bottom.
Also all this talk about wanting to remove all algae and go to the pristine look-waterfeature builders do not educate themselves on the proper ecological balancing act and cater to the lowest common denominator; which is . . . Pile in the rock, open streamway, little planting(s), and heavy reliance on "kits" to do the work, along with some bacteria. No real thought on the pond or stream planting-just a by the numbers of a few plants. Also giving in to homeowners on the type and number of fish a pond can handle. Am I ranting??? probably so . . .
I guess I better not even get into the plantings around the pond, or the foreground presentation for the pond-yeeeeesh,now I am about really ready to get started!
Build good waterfeatures-get out and study nature-really study nature . . . wade through a few streams . . .ha!, get your feet wet!