Summer is coming to an end, soon we will encounter rain and snow frequently. Some people hate this kind of weather and seasons, feel uneasy due to scary lightenings, heavy torrential rains, etc. Especially these last couple of years, seasons tend to be harsher than usual because of climate change as well.
However, these are not the only problem we as humankind are facing. All this rainwater and melted snow pour down the dirty rooftops; washes over the dirty streets of the city, sidewalks, driveways, and finally makes its way into our natural rivers, taking diseases and all these contaminants with it. The US Environmental Protection Agency has highlighted this discharge as a major source of contamination in the United States’ waterways.
This water can also find its way into your basement or home, costing you a fortune in repairs and putting your family’s health at risk. Rainscaping is a growing trend, just like rain gardening in landscaping that provides homeowners and the whole planet with a better option, and a way to help to reduce pollution.
What is Rainscaping?
It is basically any combination of plantings, water features, catch basins, permeable pavement, and other activities that are able to manage rainfall as close to where it falls as possible, rather than diverting it to another location. A diversified landscape, which contains trees, shrubs, perennials, and altered soils, intercepts and disperses rain as it falls, allowing more water absorption into the soil and by plants, in addition to rain gardens and bioswales.
Why Should You Use Rainscapign?
The answer is: why shouldn’t you?
As we mentioned in the opening paragraph, healthy soil and natural plant communities that once readily absorbed rainwater have been replaced by impervious surfaces such as rooftops and roadways. The ensuing runoff pollutes the water, poses health risks, and causes property damage. This method will re-direct rainwater away from your house, keeping water from accumulating and causing foundation damage or basement flooding.
You can rainscape your yard for both aesthetics and functionality. In some cities, rainscaping is also encouraged by the government or the local municipality. Take a look at Montgomery County, MD, for instance. As mentioned on the government’s official website, “…The RainScapes program also offers technical and financial assistance to encourage property owners to implement RainScapes techniques on their property.”
Plus, it is not as hard as you might think to do! Address specific water issues on your property, like erosion, moist portions of the yard, and hard-to-mow regions, while also having a good influence on your neighbors and nearby streams. Rainscaping is literally a couple of birds with one stone!
What to Consider Before Starting to Rainscape
You should think about a few factors while you are planning to start rainscaping:
- The desired size and depth
- The soil’s rate of infiltration, how fast the soil absorbs the water
- The uphill drainage area’s size
- The amount of impermeable or semi-impervious surfaces in the uphill drainage area (rooftops, driveways, walkways, etc.)
- The site’s gradient
- Rainfall quantity, intensity, and duration
All of these factors will have an impact on the efficiency with which your design manages rainwater runoff and achieves your final goal. You will design the rainscaping arrangement based on your location and the amount of rainfall you receive in that location. The volume and timing of rainfall, the terrain of your landscape, soil porosity, and the size of your lot and roof are all aspects to consider when determining which rainscaping strategies to use.
Also, keep in mind that rainscaping techniques that work well in one place, may not work as well in another. Each system is dependent on your location, environment, and available circumstances for installation. You can mix different rainscaping strategies to attain your overall aim after you know what works effectively in your location. Whatever rainscaping solutions you use in your landscape will, in the end, make a difference in minimizing stormwater runoff and help to save the environment!
1. Rain Gardens
A rain garden enhances the appearance of your landscaping while also preventing water from entering storm drains. It creates a space for water to pool and drain swiftly, while the landscaping around it guides rainwater to this location. For more and detailed information, you can check our post about creating rain gardens.
2. Landscaping Modifications
There are a few things you can do to improve your landscape when it rains. To reduce rainwater runoff, your attention to the impermeable surfaces in your landscape. You can reduce the amount of precipitation that goes into storm drains by minimizing these surfaces. Try considering using a permeable material like mulch or pea gravel for your next pathway.
3. Rain Barrels
Rain barrels allow you to gather rainwater for use in your garden. They usually have a capacity of 50 to 100 gallons (approx. 180 to 380 liters). While this will only account for a small portion of the overall runoff generated after a hard rainstorm, but many a little makes a mickle!
A downspout (the pipe that connects your gutter to the ground or your city’s stormwater system) connects directly to a rain barrel. You can connect a hose or spigot to a hole on the bottom of the barrel to collect or guide the water. You can avoid overflow by purchasing a downspout diverter. After the rain barrel is full, the rainwater will be routed to the ground or stormwater system. Be sure it is diverted away from your home’s foundation.
This not only helps the environment, but it also provides you water that you can use to water your plants. Rainwater is free of any chemical treatments or minerals like calcium, chlorine, and lime. However, you still should not use it for drinking, cooking, washing, giving to animals, etc.
4. Dry Well
A subterranean structure that can receive stormwater through multiple entrance pipes or channels at the top is a dry well. A series of small exit openings into the ground evacuate the water, where it gradually dissipates.
5. French Drain
A French drain consists of a perforated pipe placed in a gravel-lined trench. The pipe is topped with a grate or filter fabric and then covered with soil. You can plant the grass on top and direct the water from a French drain to a dry well or rain garden.
The clay channels of a grassed swale are covered with a dense growth of resilient grasses or other low-growing flora, similar to the earthen channels of a French drain. Runoff management is provided by grassed swales, but they may not be efficient in areas with sandy soils.
7. Filter Strips
Vegetative filter strips are densely planted in grass, although you can use shrubs or woody plants too. They run parallel to the pavement and are placed between the paved surface and a pond, marsh, or other surface water collection system, at least one foot from the edge. Vegetative strips help to reduce pollution and sediment influx, but they are less successful at eliminating soluble pollutants.