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Rain garden from existing gutter drain, suburban lot.. Would this work?

 
Posts: 44
Location: Skokie, IL
1
forest garden cooking bike
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I've been thinking of putting a rain garden in my front yard. There's already a flexible plastic tube going from my gutter, underground to the curb. I thought of building the rain garden on top of this drain in the middle of the yard, and once I dig down to the tube, just cut it to flow into the rain garden.

I've done a crude diagram of my lot and what I was thinking.

There is a flood control system more towards my walkway and a large roughly 40' tree by the street.

Do you guys think this would work? Good idea? Any advice?
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pollinator
Posts: 312
Location: Quebec, Canada
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hugelkultur forest garden trees urban
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Interesting idea!  

What I would want to be concerned with is how much water do you want to collect and will the excess flow back out to the flood control system by the sidewalk.  You do not want to harvest more than your rain garden plants can handle.  What will you do with the soil you dig out from the rain garden hollow?  Do you have a use for it?  

You'll want to make sure that the rain garden does not trap too much moisture close to the house.  I would create it closer to the sidewalk than the house.

What kind of plants do you hope to plant?  Any edible plants?  

You could also possibly direct the water towards a small edible berry bush hedge along the sidewalk to give a bit of privacy to your yard.

You'll want to verify that there are no undergrown wires or other obstacles where you want to dig.
 
Nathan Strumfeld
Posts: 44
Location: Skokie, IL
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Thanks for your reply Michelle! Really useful info, I have a lot to consider here. I'm thinking of waiting till next spring. I would like some edibles, I'd like to incorporate hazelnuts somewhere. I need to spend some time designing the space. Most of my neighbors have neatly manicured yards, so I at least want to balance the aesthetics with everything I'd like to do.
 
Michelle Bisson
pollinator
Posts: 312
Location: Quebec, Canada
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hugelkultur forest garden trees urban
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"Most of my neighbors have neatly manicured yards, so I at least want to balance the aesthetics with everything I'd like to do."

Makes sense!

Do continue to post your thoughts as you plan out your project this winter!
 
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We have a rain garden installed and mostly paid for by our city in our yard fed by a buried pipe from our downspout. The designer presented us with a list of a variety of appropriate plant and the work was done in an afternoon. They trucked in sand and topsoil that replaced the clay they dug up. I kept the excavated clay that was left over after creating the surrounding berm to build up around the house to help correct some minor water intrusion issues in the basement. At a recent follow-up inspection they suggested we add a bayscape to the opposite side of the front yard.  We are also slated to receive a subsidized rain barrel that we’ll put in the back to provide water to the raised garden.

Here is a document on the process that includes some designs and plants we were able to select from. The document also addresses sizing your rain garden predicated on distance from the structure and estimate of runoff from the roof.
 
Nathan Strumfeld
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Location: Skokie, IL
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Wow, thanks so much James! This looks like a really thorough and useful guide. Glad that it's from the University of Wisconsin too, which is in my zone. I'll definitely be referring to it when I plan my garden.
 
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Hi Nathan, did you decide what you want to do? I'm thinking of doing something similar to prevent my garage from flooding since nothing I've tried so far has fixed the issue. (Yr 1 I rerouted a gutter and trenched in a line to the ditch. Last spring I added rain barrels so that they can siphon off water but still backflow into my downspout when they're full). I'm ready to try something new so have been reading about rain gardens and swales.

The smallish front yard is dominated by 2 mature trees which limits placement for a rain garden or berms because of the dense roots. The sunny spot in the yard is  conveniently close to the drainage line, but a garden there would block vehicle access to my backyard. City utilities are buried near the road, and I'm expecting them to expand and curb the road in the next few years so don't want to invest any effort there.

I'd like to approach the water as an asset rather than a liability, but I'm not sure what design strategy I should use to give the water more opportunity to soak into my soil. Every heavy rain pulls a bit more soil onto my driveway and into my garage so I want a solution to minimize the erosion. The alternative is to cut my driveway so the water can more easily bypass my garage on its way to flooding my neighbor's yard, which does not solve the erosion.

I also have a bunch of hostas I'd like to plant in the shade under the trees, but I don't know how to keep the soil around them in place as they're getting established.

I'm fairly new to permaculture so still have a lot to learn. I'd appreciate any insights from the group.
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Old Google maps pic shows the trenched line
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Water flow
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Soil erosion
 
Nathan Strumfeld
Posts: 44
Location: Skokie, IL
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forest garden cooking bike
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Hi Lindsay,
It must be difficult having those established trees right there. Although, I've planted things near large trees and cut through some roots with the shovel and it seems like it doesn't affect the tree too badly.
I'm fairly new to permaculture as well, but it seems like some type of trench directing the water along the side of the driveway with some larger shrubs or bushes could help with the erosion.

My front yard is small and just all grass right now. I'm thinking later this spring of planting a service berry tree (Amelanchier laevis), and making the rain garden sort of wrap around the edge of the tree bed. I've attached a picture with rough placement. If anyone has thoughts or advice, I'd love to hear it!
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Where I'm thinking of planting a tree guild and rain garden
 
Popeye has his spinach. I have this tiny ad:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
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