Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens

World Water Day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of water each year on March 22nd. Hosted by the United Nations, the 2018 theme for World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water,’ exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face today. Anne Kulla, a local landscape professional and owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, explains what home owners can do in their yard to help the reduce the impact of rainfall in BC.

Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens – One of the Newest Trends in Garden Design is also a Great Environmental Plus

By Anne Kulla, CLT

Many would say that living in the Lower Mainland is sometimes like living in a rain garden. On average the Vancouver area receives just over one metre of rain every year. Low Impact Development (LID) is a landscape design strategy which helps mitigate flooding from rainwater and limit chemicals and nutrients getting into our waterways through rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs and permeable pavement.

A rain garden is a form of storm water management. The rain water falls and flows into our storm drains and streams, and eventually into the ocean, taking oils and chemicals from vehicles and other waste with it.  Our storm drain systems are reaching capacity due to the increase in unique weather events in the past few years, our increase in population, as well as our aging infrastructure. To mitigate the cost of repairs and upgrades, governments across the country are searching for ways to reduce the amount of water going into our drainage systems. Federal, provincial and local governments are implementing new bylaws, restrictions and taxes in an effort to keep water out of the drains.

One simple, low cost and effective solution is to build rain gardens.  They are a deep garden bed with a layer of topsoil planted with a variety of plants that can survive periods of wet feet during the winter and spring, and dry feet during the summer (think water restrictions).  A rain garden placed at the bottom of a slight down-slope can capture water from driveways, patios, walkways and other hard surfaces, allowing the water to slowly absorb into the ground.  Even the downspouts from your roof top can be re-routed towards a rain garden, further reducing the amount of water going into your storm drains.

The designs for rain gardens are limitless, as each one is unique to the individual landscape setting.  The location, shape, size and style of garden will change depending on the homeowner’s personal style and tastes. Different mulches, different plants and different locations all go towards making that rain garden one of a kind and unique.

Rain gardens are effective and beneficial by lowering the amount of water flowing into our storm drain systems, reducing some of your home’s water usage costs and by increasing your property value by adding a beautiful landscape.  The bonus is that you are helping the environment by keeping harmful chemicals and waste out of our rivers and oceans.

If you need assistance designing your rain garden, call a professional landscaper to help ensure you have the correct location and plants for your home. Visit LandscapeBC.com to ‘request a quote’ easily from your computer.

Anne Kulla is the owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, a landscape design and installation company based out of Surrey, BC. She actively supports her industry as a Past Chair of the Landscape Commodity for the BC Landscape and Nursery Association and is currently active in the association’s Landscape Advisory Group.