The weather events and weather patterns of recent years, like the “1000 year storm” in 2015 associated with Hurricane Joaquin, have left residents grappling with water management in their yards. On top of hurricanes, we also have dubbed the term “rain bombs,” storms that drop multiple inches of rain per hour, leaving yards and communities flooded and a mess to clean up. With some adjustments, we can help to manage this water better and create a functioning, aesthetically pleasing landscape.
View your home landscape as a small watershed. Identify the sources of water runoff, the impervious areas where water is flowing from, and the destination of water, where the water is flowing to. Identify problem areas such as clogged gutters, blocked ditches, and standing water. Now that you have done the detective work, re-think the home landscape by making water management a priority. Practices like rain gardens, rainwater harvesting, native plants, permeable pavement, and others can help prepare your yard for the next storm. HGIC 1884, Water Management in the Home Landscape, walks you through options and practices to put into place.
At my house, we recently followed this process; in the front yard, we removed a concrete walkway, installed two rain gardens, and transitioned a portion of a compacted turf area to a bed of flowering perennials. The result has been a joy to observe during times of rain and sun. The many compliments I have received from my neighbors show that these practices aren’t just for backyard application!