January 9, 2009

The Rain Garden in Action

Robin at Robin's Nesting Place has written about rain gardens this week. Her town in Indiana received a grant for constructing rain gardens.

We built a rain garden at our home in fall 2006 and I'm happy to report that it works well for managing heavy rains, preventing erosion, while helping the environment.

Before the slope was planted as a flower garden, we had difficulty getting grass to grow and keeping the seed or mulch in place. We also had a big problem with erosion on the slope.

Worse than that, during the first few heavy rains after our house was built, sections of our gravel driveway almost washed away.

The front section of the outer garden is bordered by a sloping meadow at the top and includes a stepping stone path at the bottom. After a heavy rain, the stepping stones and the plants at the bottom help slow down the runoff, allowing the rain to slowly seep into the soil.

At the bottom of the slope and in the dry stream, I have planted perennials, grasses and shrubs in the rain garden. These plants don't mind the occasionally wet feet and can handle the occasional drought. The plants didn't die out during the drought of 2007 while receiving minimal drip irrigation with our well water. All returned to bloom beautifully in 2008.

Japanese irisSiberian irisIris pseudocorus
Amsonia hubrichtiiAscelpias incarnataCanna
Carex Echinacea Eupatorium coelestinum Wayside
Itea virginica IlliciumLysimachia nummularia aurea
Miscanthus sinensisMonardaNepeta subsessillis
Salvia uliginosa

The next photos show where the water that flows over the stepping stone path and rain garden dumps into the dry stream. There is also an underground pipe that dumps rain water from our downspouts and water feature overflow into the "pond" section of the dry stream.

A view from above the intersection of the stone path and the pond of the dry stream shows the route of the rain runoff.

The dry stream continues along the meadow slope to route water away from the walkway, the gravel guest parking and the driveway.

At the intersection with the driveway, an underground pipe routes the water underneath the drive. On the other side, the water first flows slowly through meadow grass, then woodlands and it eventually flows downhill into a natural creek on our property.

The stones slow down the water flow to help it seep into the garden, filter the water and prevent erosion. Since the runoff drains into our natural creek, we use safe, organic products in our garden.

Rain management can be used to enhance your garden, protect your property and turn eyesores into pretty areas. The right plants produce rewarding results. It's easier to garden WITH nature -- zone, rain, drought, deer, rabbits -- instead of against nature.

Photos and story by Freda Cameron. Click photos to view larger.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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