Factoring in the right features

A safe, effective nonstorage system incorporates some or all of the following features:

✓ Swales: Swales are shallow, low ditches through which water moves from high to low points. Locate your swales on gentle slopes, not steep ones, where they could cause erosion problems.

Swales can swerve back and forth artistically across your land, becoming giant earth sculptures that also happen to be habitats for plants. See Chapter 7 for more on swales.

✓ Ponding zones: Shallow depressions (10 to 20 inches deep) called ponding zones are located at low points where the water can soak into the ground. These low points are good places to plant trees to use the captured water. However, note that the trees go next to the ponding zone, not in the bottom, where they could drown.

Ponding zones should be located to the side of drainage paths, out of the direct path of the strongest flow. They're filled by the swales above them, and excess water moves along through more swales on the low side of the ponding zones. Keep ponding zones away from septic systems and leach fields, and make sure they won't back up and cause flooding where you don't want it.

  • Percolation chambers: Closely related to ponding zones are percolation chambers, which are underground gravel-filled pits that hold lots of water. Roots use the water that these chambers collect. See Chapter 7 for more on percolation chambers.
  • Terraces: You can use terraces on hillsides to slow and hold water but only if you're sure that they won't affect the stability of the land. On gentle slopes, your terraces can be simple contours made of the earth itself. On steeper slopes, use retaining walls to hold soil in place; talk to a civil engineer about this type of project.
  • Dutch drain: A Dutch drain is an underground polyethylene drainage pipe that's perforated with holes so the water leaks out. It's placed over a gravel-filled trench.

One end of the drain can be connected to the downspout that takes water from your roof. The other end can emerge from the soil (or it can daylight, as we say in the business) at a safe location. Excess water is removed from the area safely, while the bulk of the water leaks out of the pipe into the porous gravel and then into the soil, where roots will find it.

✓ Pervious pavement: Using pervious pavement is a great strategy for keeping water on your property. If your paving isn't pervious (or if pervious paving isn't an option for you because of unsuitable soil or geological conditions), use conventional nonpervious paving as a catchment feature that drains water into nearby swales and ponding zones. Read about pervious paving choices in Chapter 12.

I discuss how to install most of these features in the later section "Working your plan."

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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