Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The mini rain garden doing its thing

first you dig a trench down the slope
 On the upriver side of our new fenced in child safety area we have a drainage problem. Most of the water from the rear roof drains to this side of the house, forming a lake on the rear patio and leaking back into the basement in a heavy downpour. One of the first things I did when we moved in last fall was to extend the downspout past the patio and away from the house. But then the run off just makes its way straight down the sloped backyard (right) and into the river. We can't have our basement flood, but I knew there must be a way to capture this water and let it soak in to the watershed, preventing it from just flowing straight out to sea. One of the main objectives of the Slow the Flow Grant funding my landscape makeover was to do just this.

the trench with gravel filled channel

 To fix this issue I dug a trench along the new fence and filled it with gravel (left). Then I planted the edges of the trench with lady ferns, male ferns, sensitive ferns, dwarf goats beard and a few non-native hostas divided from existing ones on the property from the old owners. 

ferns and other plants are planted

The gravel-filled trench continues right under the fence and ends in a small circle scooped out like a bowl and filled with compost, loam and more lady ferns. The trench and bowl is edged with plastic landscape edging to hold back run off, preventing it from flowing over the last 30 feet of backyard and straight down the riverbank.

If any of you experienced the heavy downpour that passed through Ipswich this past Friday night you'll know this was the perfect moment to put the mini rain garden to the test.

And it worked.

The water bypassed the brick patio (and our basement), flowed right down the gravel channel and filled up the bottom of the rain garden. From what I could tell little water spilled over and washed into the river. The garden remained flooded about five inches deep until dark but was empty the next morning, with very happy plants that loved their soak.

This was an easy project, and a great solution that keeps our basement from flooding and replenishes the watershed at the same time. It certainly slowed the flow this past Friday evening!

flooded rain garden "bowl"
flooded rain garden trench

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