Rain Gardens on the Treasure Coast

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:

Rocks for Splashing

Rocks for Splashing

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.

Rain Garden Planter

Rain Garden Planter

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.

Rockcentric Rain Garden

Rockcentric Rain Garden

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.


4 comments on “Rain Gardens on the Treasure Coast

  1. mattb325 says:

    Great idea – building code forces us to have gutters in Australia, even in our Northern tropics which are just as cyclone/hurricane prone as Florida – the best we can do is divert the rainspout (which I have done) so that water can be captured in the garden. It’s such a nice touch that you brought the rocks from your dad’s collection 🙂


  2. George Rogers says:

    Just the sort of fun and pretty nudge needed to get busy on a rain garden(ish) sort of planting. Always seems like one of those theme garden concepts in the air that I’d actually cross the line, snag it, and do… easy, green, pretty, and low maintenance (!!!). It’s all about easy. And you made the point—gotta have rocks. BTW, a nice drainage ditch can be a thing of beauty to a certain eye (not the evil HOA’s though) (and, ok, ya, maybe some skeeters). There is a master plan at PBSC involving using huge rain barrels to catch parking lot and roof water for hte plant nursery grounds there…if only master plans come true. Now let’s see, where in my back yard can I put a small but cool rain garden…wish I had a personal gardener.


    • Interesting,Rain Gardens can be fun, I had to watch the rain for a while before putting those in. I can appreciate a good ditch! Put enough Rio Grande gravel in and anything looks great.
      In the PBSC project how are you cleaning the parking lot water to re-use it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s