Ah, Spring, and Planning…

There’s nothing like a couple of days of rain to get one’s stormwater management projects in order for the spring…

With the hugel berm ready for planting in the backyard, I was carefully watching its impact on the rest of the property. Would the veggie garden downhill from the berm submerge in standing water? What about the water coming across the property to the front?

With two solid days of rain last week, I was delighted to get clear results, and indicators for this year’s projects….

An absolutely not-to-scale conceptual sketch of the coming season’s plans…yipes!!

As far as the veggie garden is concerned, the berm succeeded brilliantly! The garden grew wet, of course, but did not become inundated with water sheeting across the back yard. So this year I’ll be layering composted manure into the berm to help balance the high nitrogen from the decomposing wood, and planting red clover and nitrogen-fixing legumes on top, and letting nature do her magic.

The real challenges will come with the side yard on the downhill side of my house: water sheeting off the roof was only partially caught by the rain barrels and rain garden at the corner of the back yard. What wasn’t captured there sluiced down the sidewalk to the front yard, where it inundated a small rain garden and mini-swale and turned a wedge of my front yard into standing water before pouring through breaches in the retaining wall and down my neighbor’s driveway to the street. Not pretty!

So the first order of business is going to be rebuilding the spiral garden – that beautiful little spiral of river stones, so carefully balanced, was flattened in Baltimore’s few significant snowstorms. It still looks – sort of – like a spiral, but all those wonderful tiers, with their differences in moisture/aridity? Pfffft….gone. Note to self: this year, rebuild with bricks or paving stones!

The pond at the foot of the spiral did survive, and still captures water from the roof and sidewalk to funnel it via a mini-swale into a rain garden, but both the pond and the swale need to be enlarged.

And then the side yard –!! A modified rain garden is needed to capture the small river that follows the sidewalk from back to front of my house, with a gravel gully along the sidewalk and swales leading into the narrow yard. Figuring out the contours there will be interesting – it’s not much of a slope from back to front or from sidewalk to hedge – and the whole yard is covered with English Ivy, which I’m loath to remove for erosion reasons. Sheet-mulching? Maybe.

Next, deepen and widen the mini-swale and expand the rain garden at the downhill side of my front yard…and (shudder) replace the retaining wall. That’s going to need professional help.

One thing’s for sure – this is going to be a busy spring and summer!

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