With the world climate changing and more extreme weather patterns on the increase, the need for environmentally sensitive design has become greater. In garden design, one area that we can focus on is water management. In this blog we will explore ways to conserve water, prevent flooding and use water as an attractive feature in your designs.
Dealing with surface runoff
Excess water has the potential to negatively impact the environment. For example, during heavy rainfall, impermeable surfaces generate large amounts of surface water runoff (the flow of excess water) which can overwhelm drains and rivers, causing flash flooding. Surface runoff can also saturate soil to full capacity and cause contamination in the area.
There are many simple ideas you can use to overcome this issue and minimise excess water. One is to use a water butt that can collect and store water from roof gutters. This water can then be used later in your garden. Collection ponds are another example of a multi-function feature that can transform your outdoor space while at the same time being environmentally friendly and adding unique plant and aquatic life to your garden.
Creating a rain garden
If you want to further explore the aquatic design possibilities in your garden, you could create a “rain garden”. This is essentially a boggy patch of wet soil created by capturing rainwater from impervious areas (e.g. roofs, hard paving and patios). A rain garden can be a unique feature in your garden which promotes biodiversity and helps to prevent flooding. Please visit this page to look at ways to create a rain garden.
The importance of permeable paving
If you are looking to slow down the speed that water enters sewage systems, I recommend using permeable paving. This allows the water to penetrate hard paving areas and go down into the soil, slowing it from entering the drainage system and helping to reduce surges of water which can lead to rivers bursting their banks and flooding. An example of permeable paving can be as simple as standard block pavers spaced to allow water to pass between them. A more sophisticated example could consist of porous, high-tech materials, such as resin-bound gravel or rubber, which allow water to pass through their surface. Resin bound paving is permeable, available in a variety of color and textures, durable and long lasting (up to 25 years if maintained well).
Designing for gardens which have a lack of water
In areas where water is scarce or rain is infrequent, it’s useful to have water storage tubs and pools so you can use the water in periods of drought. Using mulch on the soil also helps to reduce water lost through evaporation. Mulch can consist of bark, gravel or stones. It’s also a good idea to incorporate plants into the garden that have adapted to grow in dry conditions as this means less water will be needed to sustain the plants when rainfall is lacking. Some examples of drought tolerant plants are:
- Cistus x pulverulentus "Sunset"
- Fremontodendron "California Glory"
- Perovskia "Blue Spire"
- Yucca filamentosa "Color Guard"
By reviewing the requirements of our designs and taking the changing climate into consideration, we can enable sustainable, creative gardening for the future.
Let us know what tips you have for creating sustainable gardens.
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