Garden Life

2009 Get It Garden Challenge – Rose Rankin is Making A Difference With A Rain Garden

Welcome to the 2009 Casual Gardener “Get It Garden” Challenge!! The challenge: create a garden that makes a difference in your life and your community, then share it with The Casual Gardener readers.

DSCF1010Rose Rankin is taking my challenge to the max and doing something really good for her community – living more sustainably.

Here you see a photo of Rose’s Rain Garden. Rose told me the whole story of how and why she built the garden, “Although this isn’t a vegetable garden, it’s an attempt at gardening to make a difference. This spring I planted a rain garden in my back yard because I am concerned about water conservation in my area, which is completely dependent on groundwater. “

“In the heart of suburban-sprawl country, our supplies are at risk of being exhausted in the not-too-distant future. So this is my little attempt to recharge some of that all-important groundwater.”

“I dug the garden 6 inches deep, and it’s about 5 feet long. As you can see, it’s an oval shape, which conforms to the foundation bed that was already there. I chose this location because the downspout is nearby, and the gutter usually overflows during storms anyway, so this spot becomes a huge puddle of eroded dirt. By digging the trench and planting natives, with their extensive root systems, this garden now retains that water and absorbs it back into the ground instead of allowing it to become runoff that ends up in a storm sewer.”

“It’s not that much to look at now because the plants are small, but it’s already catching its entire volume worth of rainwater. Last week in a rainstorm it was filled to the brim. My mistake so far was making the berm too steep, so the mulch gets eroded during rains. You can see it’s located very close to the house, which is usually not advisable. But in this case, the house is on a slab so there is no risk of the basement flooding (there is no basement), and since water was pooling there anyway without damage to the foundation, I felt it was safe. If anything, the absorption by the plants gets rid of the water quicker, which is safer for the foundation.“

“The plants are water-loving natives that can handle being flooded but will also survive dry periods. There are three types of sedges: Carex pensylvanica, C. hystericina and C. stipata. I’ve also got swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), golden alexander (Zizia aurea) and obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). It’s not much, but it’s something to help our water supply. And by next summer it will be bursting with blooms and hopefully some butterflies will visit.”

“Who says water conservation can’t be beautiful too?”

::APPLAUDING:: Thank you Rose, for that wonderful inspiration. This is a great way to make a difference for your community!

Remember, as you follow along and build your garden, please send  photos and details to me, Shawna Coronado, and I will post your successes – and your failures – so we can all learn how to make a difference with a garden. Please send anything you can – what do you do with all the vegetables you harvest for instance? Will you sell them for additional family income? Will you give them away to local food banks? My readers want to know ALL the details.

Let’s build a garden together! Please join the 2009 Casual Gardener “Get It Garden” Challenge today and help make a difference for yourself and your community.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

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  • Reply
    Mr. McGregor's Daughter
    June 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Everyone should install a rain garden. I can only imagine how beautiful Rose's garden is going to look in the coming years. I've decided that I need to plant a small raingarden at the overflow point of my rainbarrel. It's strange for me to buy moisture loving plants.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2009 at 1:19 am

    The only problem I see with a rain garden so close to the house has to do with water seeping in along the foundation. This could possibly lead to water damage problems and that is something very serious.

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