Fusion Gardening: Conserving Water
Fusion Gardening: Conserving Water
If you are up with the latest gardening magazines and garden blogs you probably have been reading about one of the “hottest trends” in gardening - “fusion gardening”.
Even though they call it a new trend, the ideas behind it are anything but new ideas. Gardeners have been using some of these practices for generations. Unfortunately, over time, we have gotten away from working with Mother Nature instead of against her. Not that I feel that I need to be in with the latest trends, but Fusion gardening does make a whole lot of sense.
Fusion landscaping works in harmony with the natural conditions of your property. It blends or fuses together traditional garden design with sound ecological practices such as water-retaining features.
Right now, as you dream of warm days and evenings, and how you would like to use your outdoor space — and what it might look like — you’re likely considering where you will eat, relax, enjoy a recreation area and even where you will provide storage. Fusion garden designs incorporate all of that into the plan that also manages storm water, attracts pollinators and creates space for composting.
These are some of the practices that I would like us to take a look at today.
Garden Seminar by Joanne Young: Eco- Friendly Gardening: Pt 2 Working With The Elements
Thinking about water
First, rain water is a resource, not a waste product. So why would we be in a hurry to send it to the lake, when our own gardens can benefit from the use of it? Fusion landscaping provides a place for excess rain water to travel vertically, through layers of aggregate and soil in your new garden.
Fusion gardens, above all, replaces our need to move water off our property as fast as possible and instead utilize management systems that actually use the water. There are a number of things that can be done in addition to building rain gardens. By combining some of these proven techniques you may be able to reduce all the runoff from your property
a) Rain Barrels
c) Use Permeable Pavers
d) Disconnect Downspouts
e) Green Roofs
f) Bio Swales
g) Planting Native Plants
h) Plant Trees
i) Rain Gardens
Rain gardens, for instance, are created by lowering the grade of a yard to sequester rain water and grow plants that are suited to wet locations. When a rain garden in the spring dries out in the heat of summer, the selected plants thrive in heat and dryness. Yet, during a midsummer deluge, the same plants tolerate ground water, soaking it up and storing much of it for use during dry spells
What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a shallow, saucer-shaped garden featuring native perennial plants and grasses. It is designed to absorb storm water run-off from impervious surfaces such as roof tops, driveways and sidewalks. Rain gardens slow down the rush of water from these hard surfaces, allowing it to naturally soak into the ground. For every inch of rain that falls on a surface area of 1,000 square feet, approximately 600 gallons of rainwater is generated! Homeowners can help reduce the amount of run-off water flowing from their property by planting a rain garden. The garden should be positioned near a runoff source like a downspout, driveway or sump pump to capture rainwater runoff and stop the water from reaching the sewer system.
Benefits of Planting a Rain Garden
Natural filtration of storm water run-off, protecting our local waterways from pollutants
Slowly infiltrating water helps replenish groundwater supplies
Can help solve flooding/drainage problems in your yard
Reduces the amount of lawn you need to water, mow and maintain
Add beauty and 'curb appeal' to your property
Create habitat for birds and butterflies
Reduce or eliminate the need to water with municipal water
Reduce garden maintenance
Sustainability and urban enhancement
Some Basics for Creating a Rain Garden:
1. Choose a site by first seeing where rainwater from the roof typically flows then ensure your chosen site is lower if possible and at least ten feet away from the house foundation to prevent basement moisture.
2. Dig a depression. A depth of four inches is sufficient, however, 8-12 inches is even better as it will allow you to add organic matter and mulch to increase water retention of your soil. If your property is sloped, use the removed soil to build a berm.
3. Add a shallow channel from your downspout, lay filter cloth, then cover it with river rock which looks great and prevents erosion.
4. Choose plants that tolerate both wet feet and dry periods. Native plants are ideal for this garden as are shrubs and small trees. Here are a few of the native plants that like rainwater and can stand drought and many more are listed in the resources linked below.
5. Place plants close together and Mulch well to limit evaporation of moisture from the soil and discourage weeds.
Plants That Tolerate Wet Feet
• wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) – sun, partial sun
• butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose) – sun
• white turtlehead (Chelone glabra) – sun, partial sun, shade
• spotted Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) – sun, partial sun
• oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) – sun
• wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) – sun, partial sun
• black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – sun, partial sun
• New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) – sun, partial sun
• swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – sun, partial sun
• Bluestar (Amsonia)
• Swamp mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
• Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Canada wild rye (Elymus Canadensis)
Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Eastern ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
Common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Properties of a Rain Garden:
Uses rainfall for your plants rather than letting it run off the property.
Deeply rooted plants will help reduce erosion on a sloping property.
Acts as a filter for pollutants – fertilizers, herbicides, and road salt.
Helps reduce the impact on stormwater management systems; keeping local waterways cleaner.
Provides moisture that supports life of all kinds – including butterflies, birds, and pollinators. A rain garden also doesn’t offer a breeding site for mosquitoes.
A rain garden is lower maintenance than lawn and it helps reduce our water bills.
Photo Credit to: http://www.londonmiddlesexmastergardeners.com/rain-gardens/
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Provides in-depth information about all aspects of rain gardens—including a list of example gardens in the Greater Toronto Area as well as a guide to rain-garden-friendly plants
Provides simple, easy-to-follow instructions for rain garden site selection, design, construction and maintenance. Plaster Creek Stewards is an initiative run out of Calvin College (Grand Rapids MI) that works to restore the Plaster Creek Watershed through a variety of initiatives, including rain garden installation.
A more technical guide created by a number of partners in the state of Iowa that provides in-depth background information, calculations, etc.
For downspout-disconnect rain gardens. Provides guidelines for calculating the approximate size your rain garden should be based on: number of downspouts, roof surface area, soil quality, and slope.