Rainy day gardens


After my brother-in-law shared these gorgeous photos, taken this past (rainy) weekend, I started thinking about designing for the rain. Rain is such a given here on the West Coast (especially during winter months) that designing your garden with the rain in mind is such an obvious (and necessary) thing. If you don’t think about drainage, the wet could kill your plants faster than the cold.


I’ve just learned about rain gardens (as a sustainable approach to stormwater management). Rain Gardens of West Michigan says:

A rain garden is constructed as a place to direct the rain from your roof or driveway, and is landscaped with perennial plant species native to our region. Rain gardens have loose, absorbent soils; a shallow, bowl-shaped ponding area; and are made to resemble the function of a natural meadow or light forest ecosystem.

I wonder why I haven’t heard of this being done locally. The benefits to the environment seem fantastic. Rain is usually something we cope with, not embrace. (Although I admit my heart sometimes skips a beat at the sight of raindrops on the Alchemilla mollis in my front bed.)

I’m discovering, however, that there are some very creative ways of using rainwater in rain garden design – beyond rain chains, though some of those are pretty too. Some great examples include this school, a recent ASLA winner, and this private residence done by Edgar David and Associates.


Hmm. One more thing to work into the design for my backyard. Blast.

Photos: Nathan Garfinkel.

See also:
A Place in the Rain: Designing the West Coast Garden
Instructions for creating a rain garden.

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