Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rain garden Ranting

Yesterday, found me ranting about rain gardens again in response to the issue of far flung suburbs. Urban sprawl has been a problem for 50 years. I don’t have a solution unless heavy government mandates mess with the tax code or other means that pretty much guarantee unintended consequences. Urban sprawl police could don uniforms with pretty flower hats, use guns to make people move into urban cores.

While the best and brightest grapple with the above issue, it would make sense for anyone to make rain gardens on any low lying terrain in leu of grass. If the soil is very compacted, soil replacement with compost is current best practice. I do not own a back hoe, have not dug tow feet down and replaced the soil. (I have used a post hole digger and relied on municipal digging resouces) Deep rooted native plants in low places cause water to respirotranspire back into the air. A good layer of mulch will keep soil moist and make a hospitable place for favorable soil fauna. Good thing to remember about much: keep it a few inches away from shrubbery, flowers and trees to avoid what my landscaper friend calls cooties.

I haven’t dug down and replaced soil on my own property. I don’t have floods on my well designed (for the 1960’s) lot. I do like to dig trenches, swales and dry rivers to divert water away from impervious surfaces to lower areas where it can take its time. If every one kept their water onsight, it would trickle into the ground and recharge aquifers, hydrate our landscape. Roots and soil layers trap dirt, filter.

My understanding is that we are all in this world together, we need to learn to deal with harmful petrochemicals, heavy metals in our storm water, not let these goblins get into our riverbeds if our grandchildren are to find places to swim. Soil and wetlands filter harmful chemicals. The exact process of trapping heavy metals and harmful chemicals is mysterious to me. I think of it as alchemy. High School chemistry students could probably give me a clue.

A minority of well meaning gardeners cannot do the amazing task of transforming our drainage systems. Pipe and pond drainage, sending the water downstream to be someone else’s problem is what most of our building codes, planning boards, and local ordinances enforce. Living down stream has shown me how ineffective our practices are.

When people get me started, I get on a roll. Gardeners can be dangerous people.


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