Rain garden from the southwest; past the gate is the hot tub deck.

Rain garden from the southwest; past the gate is the hot tub deck.

The weather was gorgeous this weekend and it was impossible to resist the lure of the outdoors. I also love to have the chance to putz around with backyard projects. So I turned my attention to a little corner behind our house that has been neglected for years… an awkward space too small to do much with and a little out of the way. There are unsightly utility connections back there, and most of the runoff from the roof winds up flooding it… especially now that I put in a couple rain barrels and channeled the overflow back there. Yet it was on the path to our “cowboy hot tub” enclosure. I decided it was the perfect place for a quiet rain garden.

I dug a depression and lined it with rocks, so the rainwater would pool further from the house. Around it I planted some native flowering plants that attract hummingbirds: Red Yucca, Fairy Duster, and a purple-flowered bush whose name I can’t recall at the moment. We had a bit of reed fencing lying around, so I tied to it some steel mesh used for reinforcing concrete to screen the gas meter and water heater. Finally I used some bricks we had stacked around the yard to put in a small patio.

View of the rain garden looking west. The overflow from the rain barrels flows into the basin, filled with hearts-and-flowers.

View of the rain garden looking west. The overflow from the rain barrels flows into the basin, filled with hearts-and-flowers.

It was a fun project that turned a rather blighted part of the yard into someplace pleasant to sit, not to mention something that deals with drainage problems. Before, rainwater would pool next to the house. While I was putting in the rain garden, I found evidence of termite damage in some trim boards. It does not appear to be serious but keeping water away from the house will go a long way in reducing the risk of further damage.

I found a good article on designing and building rain gardens if you are thinking of doing your own.

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