Rainscapes are landscapes designed specifically for water conservation. Rainwater collected throughout the year is used to water the plants in the landscape, saving valuable resources and money. There are numerous design features to consider, depending on how you wish the rainscape to perform. In arid climates, rainscapes collect and utilize every drop of rain received throughout the year for plants.
In wetter climates, rainscapes not only water the plants, but they filter pollutants out of stormwater runoff. Any excess water then returns as clean water to aquifers or is discharged into rivers and waterways.
Tips For Your Rain Garden
Take a walk around your property. A great start to figuring out where your rain garden should be is to take note of where the most rainwater runoff occurs during a storm. Some common areas are roofs, driveways or sidewalks. An ideal place for your rain garden is a spot downhill from this runoff. Your rain garden will help filter pollutants from the rainwater runoff to produce healthy, beautiful plants! The butterflies, bees, and other insects will thank you!
Increase the Organic Matter in Your Soil
Adding just 5% organic matter (one heaping shovel-full of a product like Kellogg Garden Organics Amend or G&B Organics Harvest Supreme for each square foot of garden), to native soil can help that same soil hold 20% more water! Gardeners can then reduce how frequently they need to water their garden, saving time, money, and our precious natural resource.
Add 3 Inches of Organic Mulch
Research shows that adding a three-inch layer of mulch on top of your soil provides a whole host of benefits, not least of which is reducing water usage. Mulch helps prevent evaporation, so more of the water you provide your plants stays where your plants can use it. By using products like Kellogg Garden Organics Gromulch or G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner as your mulch, you’re not only preventing water evaporation, you are adding organic material and nutrients to the soil.
Choosing Plants Wisely
Appropriate plants will vary depending on the type of climate and the rainscape features. In more arid climates, plants are chosen for their drought tolerance. These plants include many varieties of cactus and agave, spicebush, cotoneaster, rosemary, and thyme. Consult your agricultural extension service for complete listings.
In wetter climates, plants may be chosen because they thrive in soil moisture extremes. A rain garden, for instance, is a depression or shallow pond used for collecting and filtering storm-water runoff. Plants may be submerged in water for up to three days, followed by long periods of drought.
One common thread in plant selection is the use of native plant species. Once established in the landscape, native plants require very little care and maintenance.
Rain Water Filtering – Permeable Pavers
Looking for a way to filter your rainwater? Whether you are capturing the rain in cisterns or barrels or you are directing the runoff to a desired area, permeable pavers are a great way to filter pollutants from your runoff. Arrange the pavers with wide gaps on top of a bed of gravel to reduce the amount of pollutants in your rainwater runoff.
If you do not want to use permeable pavers, swales are a great way to move water through your property. Swales are shallow, rock-lined channels that not only move water throughout your property but also slow water down. This slowing down of the water allows it to percolate back into the ground to improve the quality of the water. Swales also allow the water to come into contact with the sunlight, which is another reason swales help improve the water quality. Did we mention they’re also beautiful? Beautiful, sustainable functionality is always a win in our book!
Rainwater collections systems can be as simple as gutter downspouts directed into a few rain barrels. Rain barrels are set up on a platform to allow gravity feed of the water. In areas with very little measurable rainfall, they can be complex, often utilizing an underground water storage tank with electric pumps. The electric pumps feed drip irrigation throughout the landscape. Rainwater capture and usage restrictions may apply check local water capture and storage regulation in your area.