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.