Hydromorphological deficits of European rivers and creeks are a major reason for the fact that the good ecological status stipulated by the European Water Framework Directive has not been achieved. In order to overcome these deficits, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia calls for the implementation of a radiating effect concept to facilitate the planning of cost-effective restoration measures. The radiating effect concept states that natural or near-natural sections of water bodies have a positive impact on adjacent hydromorphologically altered sections. Transforming this concept into concrete measures will contribute to creating and boosting such radiating effects. We have applied the radiating effect concept to 11 small streams in a low mountain range and assessed its efficiency by comparing the biological and hydromorphological data of 48 sampling sites. Our findings show that near-natural stream sections have a positive effect on the ecological status of adjacent hydromorphologically altered sections. This study provides an innovative approach to the implementation of Integrated River Basin Management at a local scale. Its results are potentially of major interest to water managers dealing with the challenge of prioritizing river restoration measures. Nevertheless, specific issues such as assessing the influence of artificial barriers limiting the radiating effects need to be further investigated.