We have a local environmental blogger here on the Treasure Coast who posted about Rain Gardens and inspired this.
I have been designing Rain Gardens for about 10 years. It is a great idea for the environment, but aesthetically it is difficult to cope with the fact that unless carefully planned it looks like a big drainage ditch in your front yard. Not a good look.
I decided to put some Rain Gardens around our house after discovering that the areas right around the house were not irrigated and the house had no gutters so the rain collected on the ground around the house and was not really concentrated by gutters into 4 or 5 spots.
The lack of gutters on the roof is relatively common here, this is new to me. I am not quite sure why – maybe Hurricanes blow them off. Anyway, we bought the house without gutters and I always, always hated dealing with getting the gutters cleaned, etc. on our house in Atlanta. I was happy not to have gutters.
Then it rained, like seven inches. Wow, there were pits in the areas under the valleys of the roof where the water came off the roof. Luckily the yard was so gruesome there was no question about redoing the driveway and landscaping. And we live on a Sugar Sand Dune, highly pervious no water stands anywhere. A big ditch was not really necessary.
My father taught Geology at Emory University. He passed on and I inherited his love of rocks, but in a more decorative way. I love stone, boulders and natural materials incorporated into the garden. I brought his rocks to Florida and planned to use them in my gardens. In Florida, I have added seashells and cap rocks in an effort to be more sustainable by using locally available material.
My Rain Gardens are in my front yard in a planter:
The valley of the roof drains onto these rocks, the rocks break the speed of water and then it splashes on down the Egg Rock, waters my plants and drains back into the sand. This planter is not irrigated, a bit of a sin in South Florida – it is maintained for the most part by rain. I occasionally water the Plumeria in winter. The plants are placed out from under the edge of the roof so they get watered and not beaten by a big rainstorm.
This is the whole garden. A Bridal Veil Plumeria is centered on the house flanked by Lemon Blanchiata Bromeliads then FlapJack plants. A Pencil Cactus anchors the corner. The plant selection is mostly succulents or low water tolerant plants. I had to have the Plumeria for aesthetic reasons and suffer through the watering.
This is my other Rain Garden. Again the water comes off the corner valley and lands on the large sized Egg Rock and flows over the Black Mexican Pebbles and drains to the driveway. The driveway is made from pervious shell and drains onto a turf area with a french drain beneath it.
The Rocks are from my father’s collection and one piece of coral rock from Jensen Beach. Plants are newly planted -a Tibouchina and a Leafless Bird of Paradise. I am watering these plants to establish them.