Rain, man!

puddleAustin is in the midst of a deluge today, so what could be more topical than rain gardens? The notion of a rain garden is so lyrical, as if you can grow your own rain, but in truth, they are areas to capture rain before it leaves your property.

Lisa Cowan, studioverde landscape architecture + design

Lisa Cowan, RLA studioverde landscape architecture + design

We used to work hard to get extra rain to move quickly off the land into a storm drainage system. We now know this water is not something to be gotten rid of, like guests who’ve overstayed their welcome. Rain gardens help replenish ground water supplies and reduce pollution by keeping some of the junk from roofs, driveways and roads out of creeks and streams.


From article by Jann Ichida (jmichida@owu.edu)

To make your own rain garden, locate the lowest spot in your yard, or perhaps place it at the end of a downspout. Add compost and partially decomposed leaf litter to your existing soil. Sand is generally recommended, but I’m not a fan. That sand has to come from somewhere – why destroy one ecosystem to improve another? Plus if you add that sand to clay soil, you get something like concrete…

park rain garden

As for what to plant, Austin has a phenomenal Grow Green program, that teaches us about all kinds of gardeny things, including what to plant in local rain gardens. Do wait until the soil is no longer saturated to get started. You will damage soil if you work it while it’s wet… it will become compacted and no longer able to transfer water and nutrients to roots. It takes years to undo this damage, so avoid it in the first place!

~ Sue Lambe

Less Can Be More

Less Can Be More

Small urban yards can feel like big spaces. When space is at a premium, think about creating rooms outdoors rather than designing a backyard. This gate, much like the one in last week’s post, provides a place to transition from the cares of the day. The simple crushed stone path to the back of the [...]

Baskets of Stone (Corbeille Leonard)

Baskets of Stone (Corbeille Leonard)

Monday’s fabulous post by Curlin on Rick Joy’s brilliant barn got me thinking about ancient construction techniques used in new ways. An old civil engineering technique of building with gabions has surfaced all over the world, making it’s mark on the landscape with gusto. It can be an earth (and budget) friendly way to terrace [...]

Having a ball with succulents

Having a ball with succulents

These goofy Dr. Seuss-inspired baskets were a happy find while lunching at Morton Arboretum last week. They are filled with succulents, which includes many species most of which are really easy to propagate and grow. Here, they are absolutely loving the dappled shade provided by a pergola. Should you find yourself sans pergola, try hanging [...]