Monday, April 24, 2017

Ever hear of Rainscaping?

-- Rainscaping -- 

  Rainwater – running off driveways, down streets, pooling in yards and corners of properties, pouring out of downspouts… Where it runs down through the street picking up all kinds of undesirable components and then sent directly to the water treatment centre sent directly off to some swamp or water way.  

Yes, there are rain collection and pond options out there but they are not always an economical way to go …and for some areas TOO much water is the problem as opposed to conserving it. Diversion is one option… for instance last year we put in gravel and sloped the soil underneath (and painted the foundation) around our entire house. This involved digging down about 3 feet, cleaning the foundation wall, repairing any spots that needed it and painting 2 thick coats of water repellent product, refilling the hole and sloping the earth away from the home and then topping everything off with gravel to level it for a walk way. We also created an underground drainage swale going from the bottom of the slopped garden in the back yard, along the drip area of the house roofline and down to the city curb. This was all in an effort to divert excess water and prevent potential flooding that could occur in the future from excess rain or a broken pipe in the garden.

One option you may not have considered yet is to create a Rainscape… kinda like Xeriscape (planting desert like plants to reduce watering needs) – but the opposite – you are choosing plants that want to sit in wet ground.  In this case you would watch to see where the water flows (or divert it where you desire it to be) and from there you would begin to build your rain garden.

Dig down several feet and several feet across. Set the soil off to the side, you can use it to create a berm – berms are used for privacy, as a noise barrier, and provide extra garden space - or use the excess soil in layers in your compost system to build healthy soil for your gardens.

You have the choice of lining the ditch with a variety of materials you can choose from to reduce water loss in off seasons but also allow for some permeability for wet seasons… i.e. you might do a triple layer of landscape fabric at the base of your bed. Top that with crushed gravel, then a thick layer of sand, then crushed gravel again. Top this with a layer of good growing soil (i.e. amended top soil). Then have ready lots of different sized rocks for lining the edges and placing around your plants. These rocks and or gravel will serve as decorative mulch.   

You can plant whatever native wetland plants and anything else the nursery recommends for your area. These plants will help reduce flooding, clean the water, and make a wet area in your yard beautiful. 

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