As the snow melts and the April rains come, enter the mud season! There is no getting around this time of year. The continuation of cold weather this spring has slowed the frost line dissipation, so the “mud” is just a fact of life here in the North Country. This long bitter cold winter brings more than the average pothole in the roads. Last week the Fedex delivery truck backed out of my 18 year old asphalt driveway and left me with a foot deep gully in it. Oh the joys of frost heave and thaw!
And with all this comes the inevitable pooling of water around your yard. But today there are innumerable innovations that can help you minimize this glorious North Country Rite of Spring. Collecting and reusing that snow melt and spring rainwater is a great way to jump start your garden season. When gardeners think rainwater collection they typically think of rain barrels. This is the most basic level of rainwater collection. Did you know the average downspout has the potential to collect 250 gallons of water/year. We do so on our property off one roof with 75 gallon Ranxchange barrel. These are more esthetically pleasing than the average design and connect right to the roof downspout. It even offers a spigot for filling watering containers! We suggest these for any container gardening enthusiast. The nutrient rich rainwater is incredibly good for plants. Cant get that from tap water!
On a larger scale many homeowners avoid rain gutters and leaders. This is very much the case for folks with metal roofs and many historical structures in town. But even these roofs have the potential to manage storm water runoff and return rainwater to our aquifers with a rooftop drip line. Using proper stone and drainage methods you can channel your rooftop water along an installed foundation drip line. The drip line will filter and carry water to a particular area to perk (slowly drip) back down into the soil. We actually have taken this system a step further and added a small pondless water feature to collect and recycle the roof water. It is the one feature on our property over a 6 year period that we NEVER have to auto-fil for water evaporation!
But sure your rooftop drip line is properly installed! We have observed poorly designed systems in our area with using inappropriate stone selection and above ground drainage pipes that often lead to other ecological problems such as vegetative decay and mosquito breeding grounds!
So think about how yesterday’s rain can be an asset for this season’s gardens. Next week I will explore new twists on the old rainwater garden concept and hard surface innovations.