Landscaping a Rain-Friendly Garden

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No matter if you’re contending with too little or too much rain, both extremes are a challenge to gardeners like you and me. Uncontrolled rainwater can remove valuable soil and fertilizer from your garden, contribute to erosion and even encourage mosquitoes to take up residence in your yard once standing water accumulates. However, these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, by not utilizing rainwater in your garden, you’re wasting an opportunity to enhance your landscape design and, not to mention, save some money on your water bill.

Incorporating rain-friendly fixtures into your garden is easier than it may seem (I promise). If you live in an area that experiences frequent rainfall, consider managing the way water flows through your garden with a dry riverbed — the dry bed will contain water during a heavy rain and an intermittent stream during a lighter rain. If you want to conserve water but you’re not fond of drab rain collection barrels, top them with cascading pots of colorful flowers or even strawberry plants. Prefer to conserve your water underground? Build a fountain to aerate an underground water storage tank while adding a decorative fixture to your garden.

Instead of pouring a concrete patio or walkway, try permeable paving — any kind of ground covering that lets water penetrate the soil, such as paving stones. Permeable paving not only allows water to sink gently into the soil, but offers you the opportunity to get more creative with your landscape design. You can use a variety of materials, such as multicolored stones or tiles, to create mosaics, or bricks, pavers, stones, flagstone or even colored decomposed granite to create aesthetically pleasing and rain-friendly walkways.

In places where water can build up, constructing a pond as a drainage catch allows excess water to be naturally filtered underground. The soft sounds of a well-designed structure can add considerable ambiance to your garden. Plus, a pond is an excellent way to help attract local wildlife.

Use your imagination — and all the interesting building materials available for outdoor landscaping — to manage rainwater in your garden. How many ideas can you come up with to turn water stewardship into an asset for your garden?

Photo credits: Jane Gates

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