Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rain Garden Convert

Water concerns in our urban area more often tend to be about flooding (basements) or pollution from storm runoff rather than drought. The municipalities are pumping more water longer distances from the lakes every year, so that is of some concern. It takes energy to move water. So water bills are escalating. Being a gardener one must think of these issues.

So last year I thought I would try a hand at a rain garden. Sounds easy enough. There is a very low spot on the property that has a slope on the east and north edges. The house is a bit higher so in very heavy downpours of long duration this corner of the yard can become a pool. It never sits long so this tells me the drainage in the area is good. Perfect spot to try a rain garden.

The Mr and I marked out the area for digging, a long 20 Ft section curving into an L shape of another 7 feet. The bed is about 6 Ft wide at the base of a 4 Ft slope so about 10 Ft wide planted.
The soil is very nice loam easy to dig out the grass then down about a foot. We emptied the compost bin into the bed and bought more to make sure it was a heavy organic mix. Then I planted with many grasses and natives that might need watering on higher ground. All the plants were small having been grown from seed or divided from large clumps. I will be adding a few more this spring. On the North east corner we planted a young Hawthorn tree.
There are four gutter drains from the house of which one directly leads to the rain garden and during heaving rain, runoff from one of the neighbors gutters runs down the slope into the area of the rain garden. The entire property slopes slightly towards an alley where too much water would still end up in the sewer.
In the fall of 2006 even without mature plant growth the rain garden handled all the water from a 45 minute downpour of over 2 1/2 inches of rainfall. Water sat on the surface for only about 2 hours after the rain stopped and the next morning it was not even soggy. If it had not been dark it would have made great movie footage.
I am so looking forward to documenting the next years progress. As the plants grow and flower and seed the wildlife factor should be interesting.

more info...

http://www.raingardens.org/Index.php

http://dnr.wi.gov/org/water/wm/nps/rg/index.htm

http://consciouschoice.com/2001/cc1405/raingardens1405.html

http://www.raingardennetwork.com/

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gandalf- glad to hear that neither you nor your gardens have floated away.I haven't seen you on BHG in awhile.

If you get a chance, check out http://voices.gardenweb.com/2007/01/17/

If you like it, you should add your blog to this site. At the bottom of the right column is a link that says ADD YOUR SITE.

I hope your rain garden does well. I will look forward to hearing about its progress.

17/1/07 12:50 PM  
Blogger firefly said...

I have a low point in the yard where water definitely collects in spring, and I overmulched it with newspaper and cedar bark in autumn to get rid of the grass. At the moment winterberry, clethra, viburnum, and elderberry are planted around the edges of the area. In spring I'll be adding some moisture-loving species. I don't have a solid list yet, but I'm thinking mallow, swamp milkweed, monarda, and some others that can handle sun and seasonally soggy soil.

Subject to change, of course, especially after I check out the links here ;-)

17/1/07 1:19 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

anonymous,
Hello and welcome.
Not many from GT have visited.I have seen Garden Voices but can not make up my mind as to trying to join or not just yet. It seems such a big site and I am new to blogging.Thanks for the suggestion.

Firefly, I like your shrub selections and the perennials sound good.
The sites I listed have so much good information about the function of rain gardens and how local governments have recognized the need for a different way to control run off from storms. It is amazing the difference that can be made by keeping rain water where or near where it falls. I have seen such inventive ways these gardens are implemented.

18/1/07 6:00 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

18/1/07 6:00 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Hello Gloria,

Pam/Digging has made a rain garden in her garden, too, using some of the Texas native plants that can tolerate that cycle of drought/flood/drought that is prevalent here in Austin.

I have my eye on a place in our yard that might be improved with such a garden, so it can slow and filter any downpours, rather than allowing the water to run right off.

We've only been here a couple of years, so we're not too sure what normal is for our yard. [Not that normal weather happens very often for any of us, no matter where we live!]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

19/1/07 5:04 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hi there Annie,
Has Pam/Digging information about her rain garden on the blog? Guess I will search around over there and see.
I saw the pictures of iced greenery in your area. The weather has its way with us don't it.Hope you were not to awfully discouraged.

20/1/07 4:49 PM  

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