Where Should the Water Go? Capturing and Channelling Water in Your Garden

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Whether your garden is large or small, you need to plan for water flow.

If you live in a rainy climate or in a place that experiences rainfall for even part of the year, you know that you sometimes have an excess of water. This is a delightful problem to have, and as you think back on those times during the warmer summer months when your garden looks parched, you might long for those rainy days again.

However, during the rain, all of that water can be frustrating. It pools and puddles, it flows where you don’t want it, and it can land inside your home if you’re not careful. It brings debris with it that clogs your gutters and leads to cascades of water past your siding and windows. What should you do with all of that water in your garden, and how can you capture and channel it so that it’s useful instead of harmful?

How Can You Use Water in the Garden?

To understand why you want to channel water, you need to know how you can use it in the garden. At times, you might have far too much water, but overall, water is a benefit for your garden. You can use it to:

  • Store, so you can water your plants in the dry season
  • Sink into the soil, so that you have soil that is full of the water that helps your plants grow
  • Move nutrients throughout your garden
  • Add a water feature to the garden, such as a small pond or stream
  • Create natural wet places, such as a rain garden

Capturing Water

To use the water in your garden effectively, first you need to be able to capture and control it. If it’s splashing off your roof and running off into puddles on the ground, your water is not managed, and it’s harder to coordinate. Instead, you need to capture this water.

First, make sure that your roof, gutters, and downspouts are working well. Check them regularly to make sure that water is not pooling on the roof or staying in or splashing over the sides of the gutters. Clean your gutters regularly or add gutter guards so that your gutters can move water quickly and easily into a downspout.

Download our free gutter guide to learn more about the role that gutters play in water management.

You can capture the water that comes off your roof and you can capture and move the water in your garden. The water that comes off your roof can go into underground storage, a rain barrel, or a rain garden at the bottom of the downspout. The water that falls into your garden can sink into the soil or be channeled by clever landscaping such swales, drains, and rain gardens.

Channel Your Water 

Water flows downward, but according to Deep Green Permaculture, it’s important to remember that “Water takes the shortest path to the lowest level.” When you’re channeling water in your garden, you need to remember this. Instead of sending water down a circuitous route, you need to plan to expedite its progress, or the water will make its own plans. How can you move water to a new place in the garden?

  • Make sure that the overall landscaping in your garden moves water away from your home
  • If you have a slope, create a swale. This shallow trench follows the contour of your garden. It’s designed to slow water that is flowing down a slope and encourage it to sink into the ground.
  • According to the Dummies gardening books, if you have a problem with water backups, you can “Just get out there with a trowel or shovel and create some diversion channels.”
  • If you really want to move your water, send it into French drains. These drains are designed with gravel and perforated pipes, and they collect and then carry water from one place to another in the garden. Think of them as the superhighway for your garden water flow.

Store Water in a Container

There are a number of different ways to store water in a container such as a rain barrel. An underground rain barrel can store a large quantity of water, and this allows you to maintain a strong water supply during times of drought and water a large garden with the water. Rain barrels come in a variety of sizes and designs, from pop-up plastic ones to rain barrels that incorporate a barrel and a large planter. If you decide to store water in a barrel, consider using one with a top to avoid mosquito problems in the summer months, since an open rain barrel can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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A rain barrel is one way to manage and store water for the future.

Store Water in a Rain Garden

If you love to garden, creating wet places in the garden is an ideal way to have your plants and water them too. A rain garden can be located under a downspout or a rain chain where water flows down to the ground. Alternatively, you can channel water using swales in your landscaping or use an existing wet area in the garden, planting wetland plants that are native to your area. Particularly if you live in a dry place, a rain garden is an opportunity to enjoy plants that love water without needing to water them much for most of the year.

Get Your Water to Sink Into the Soil

If your preferred way to capture water is to store it in the soil, you need to improve your garden soil so that the water will easily sink in. Over time, add mulch and compost to the soil. Avoid stepping on it, since this compacts it. Soil that is compacted will not allow water to sink in. Instead, the water will pool on the top of the soil or run down it, depending on the slope.

When you have an abundance of water, there are many ways to make it work well for your garden instead of getting unhappy about all of those puddles. At Lednor Home Solutions, we understand how your home works. We want to make sure that your roof and your gutters work to maximum effect to move water from your home and into your garden or drainage system. Are you curious about how we can work with you to improve your gutter system, add gutter guards, or restore your roof? Schedule a free estimate today.

Written by Del Thebaud

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