Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just some updates on the rain garden

One thing I never knew before I dug my rain garden was how nerve-wracking the first winter would be. Did I make it big enough? (Yes.) Will it overflow? (Not yet.) What if my basement floods because my work has inadvertently directed water toward the house instead of away from it? (Not yet, thankfully.)

I also never knew I'd like my rain garden as much as I do. I love seeing how high it's getting and what's responding well. When I installed it I planted some dormant stream lillies and really felt like they weren't going to thrive. Truthfully, I thought they were dead and I'd been hoodwinked by the Audubon Society. I mulched over them and forgot they were there. It was a wonderful surprise to see them pop up, no worse for the wear.



It never ceases to amaze me how much water the soil can accept. This was all gone within an hour.


Or that these Cascade penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus) can hang out under water for so long and be so happy.




I'm trying to figure out when I can do the work to install the rain garden in the front yard. If it would stop raining I could rent the sod cutter and dig the hole and plant the plants and take the pretty pictures. But still, it pours. 


It was actually sunny on Monday and all the tulips had stretched their petals wide open to sun themselves. By the time I finished weeding the perennial lab they had all closed up again.


They are forecasting sun for Saturday but that could change by the time the weekend rolls around. Everyone keep everything crossed! 

17 comments:

  1. It looks awesome! GUESS WHAT? I am planting a rain garden myself! With the help of a very generous friend who is taking a master gardener course, we're going to create one so that the area by the back corner of the house doesn't flood every time it rains a lot. I am excited for the day when there is a garden to hold the water instead of having it up against the bricks (which have thankfully not let the water inside as yet *knock on wood*). I was so inspired by seeing yours that I didn't hesitate when she asked if I was interested.

    So anyway, the area of the house that it will be next to is on a slab, so that's a point in my favor. We don't have a TON of room, but the soil is really sandy (there were even neat-looking different-colored layers of sand when we did the drainage test) and I think it'll be okay. How big is your garden, anyway?

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  2. That's so great! Is the garden going to be right next to your house? Restrictions in Portland say it needs to be six feet from a slab and ten feet from a crawlspace/basement. How fast did your soil drain during the percolation test? I am so excited to see how one behaves in a snowy location!

    My garden is roughly 50 square feet, approximately 9x6 feet. The roof area that would be draining was 500 square feet and the regulations for PDX say to make it 10% of the impermeable surface. I dug down 18 inches because I am paranoid and it has been more than big enough, which is why I was able to direct more gutters to it. I want to attempt the same in the front yard but I can't dig down as deep because of buried pipe worries.

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  3. Plants are always surprising me on how resilient they can be! You're rain garden looks so good. We have two huge "rain gardens" in our backyard (the ponds LOL) already. Someday I'd like to plant as many water/bog loving plants as I can along the shorelines our upper and lower yard have. I want to maintain the tall grassy border because it gives a place for wildlife to hide (the frogs and turtles in particular). I was thinking lots of daylillies, irises, sedges, and grasses. Any idea if those would do well in a space like that or any other suggestions?

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  4. If it's an area with vacillating water levels sedges, grasses, and irises would work well since you need plants that can be really wet in the winter and dry in the summer. If your pond stays the same all year you could just go for boggy plants. I'm so jealous that you have frogs and turtles! I want frogs so badly but I don't want a pond badly enough to build one for them.

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  5. OMG that looks great! I love tulips, they're so pretty (my step mom's favorite flower). I always find it so fascinating being outside when flowers are all open sucking in the sun and then close when the day comes to an end - seeing nature at work is always so amazing

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  6. Thanks, I love tulips too! When I really think about it, it's kind of like the plants are stuffing their faces when they sun themselves like that. Such pigs!

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  7. I like it. What an efficient little system you have, and it is doing what it should. Great design! And isn't it fun to see plants that will thrive in that wet pool? Who knew they could live like that, but nature provides and gives us plants for every type of condition.

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  8. This is really cool, and something I've never seen before! It is amazing that it will absorb that much water in just a short time. Very cool project!

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  9. It really drives home that idea of "right plant, right place." Which isn't normally all that fun (zone 9ers have all the stuff I want) but in this case I'll take it!

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  10. HammeringOurWayHomeApril 6, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    A rain garden, never heard of one before but it looks neat. And tulips, gah. They are so pretty! So refreshing to see them sprung up in a garden (as opposed to the grocery stores where I've been recently spotting them).

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  11. They are gaining in popularity amongst hippies :)

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  12. La-la-love it! This might be s dumb question, but what keeps the soil from just washing away?

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  13. Not a dumb question at all! You have to put down a lot of rocks where the rainwater enters or you are right, it will wash away. Once it's been slowed down by the rocks there's a bunch of mulch and the plants themselves to hold everything together.

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  14. It's going to be near to the house and patio slab, but not right next to - we will probably extend the downspout in the same way you did, so the garden will be a few feet at least from the house. We don't have any particular restrictions here, oddly enough, so we're going with the recommendations the master gardener people are providing. The water drained pretty quickly, I think, though I'm not exactly sure what the relative speed is in other areas. We dug 18", filled the hole, let it drain, filled it again, and it drained in less than two hours. And it was only about 40 degrees out that day, so the ground was pretty cold.

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  15. Wow! You have mega-drainage! That's awesome--I think, in the great oregonian tradition, our guidelines are waaaaay too strict. I can't wait to see yours. Seriously, blog your plans soon! :)

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  16. Contrary to the usual suburban tendency to over-ordinance everything, rain gardens are a little too hippy-dippy to have been included yet here. :) And I definitely will blog about it!

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  17. Here is what one Puyallup, WA neighborhood is doing with their rain gardens - creating a Street of Green

    http://raindogdesigns.com/wordpress/?page_id=1877

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