this post was updated March 7, 2020
Rain gardens are growing in popularity as drainage solutions for environmentally-conscious property owners. These carefully-designed landscapes add more than beauty to their surroundings. They are proven to have a significant impact in reducing the flow of contaminated water from urban areas to wetlands, streams, lakes, and other natural waterways.
Installing a rain garden is a powerful way to directly contribute a positive impact on the environment surrounding your home or business.
Why Do Rain Gardens Matter?
As communities grow and develop, buildings, roads, and rooftops replace native habitats. During times of precipitation, the original flow of water through the enviroscape is disturbed. Instead of being naturally filtered through pre-existing forests and soil, stormwater now flows at a high rate over hard surfaces and carries man-made pollutants with it. Erosion and increased flooding become problematic.
Additionally, the higher flow rate of water and contaminants that result from development cause real problems for regional aquatic life and water resources. However, rain gardens offer an exciting array of solutions.
- Slow erosion and alleviate flooding
- Decrease pollution and waste
- Clean runoff naturally
- Reduce the workload for wastewater facilities
- Can be created in public and private spaces of any shape and size, including businesses, residences, or public spaces
What Is A Rain Garden?
Rain gardens are bowl-shaped depressions in a landscape that collect and clean rainwater runoff from hard surfaces nearby, like driveways, roofs, parking areas, and patios.
They are designed with special soil mixes that allow speedy absorption of water — usually a combination of sand, topsoil, and compost. This amended soil filters runoff and also supports a variety of plant growth.
Note: Rain gardens are not permanent ponds. They are sized to allow temporary pooling after rain. In a well-designed garden, all water passes through very quickly, typically from one to two hours (maximum of one to two days) after a storm. This prevents stagnation and mosquitoes.
Photo: WSU Extension
There are a number of ways water can be diverted to a rain garden through a landscape. It may be that one approach works well for a back yard/patio area, but a different one is more effective for dealing with runoff issues in the front.
Design Features of a Rain Garden
Soil is where it all begins. Reworking the ground to provide the right blend of soil, sand, and compost is critical to having a healthy rain garden. Absorption, drainage, and filtration all rests on getting this foundation prepared correctly.
There are three planting zones in a rain garden:
Zone 1 The wettest area, at the bottom of the rain garden. Important to install plants in this zone that can handle “wet feet” for several hours at a time.
Zone 2 The sloped sides of the garden, which may become wet from time to time. These plants provide stability and prevent erosion.
Zone 3 The perimeter of the rain garden, with the driest soil.
Since rain garden design is based on earth-friendly practice, using native plantings to fill out the three zones makes a lot of sense. Native plants create a nourishing habitat for local wildlife, birds, butterflies, and other important pollinators.
Photo: Washington State Department of Ecology
“Plants and soil work together in the rain garden. The plant roots and soil organisms build soil structure, create channels and pores to soak up and filter water, and improve nutrient and oxygen availability necessary to support an abundance of life. While plants help the rain garden absorb stormwater, they also create an attractive landscape for your yard and neighborhood.” — WSU Extension, Rain Garden Handbook for Western WA
How to Know If A Rain Garden Is Right For You
A rain garden may be a good fit for you if you answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Do you want to improve the landscaping and appearance of your property?
- Would you like to directly reduce the amount of pollutants reaching groundwater and storm drains in your community (as well as wetlands, streams, and other natural waters)?
- Would you like to reduce flooding, prevent sewer overflows, and erosion in streams by absorbing runoff from hard surfaces?
- Is providing habitat for beneficial insects and birds important to you?
- Would you like to be responsible for recharging local groundwater by increasing the amount of water that soaks into the ground on your property
Let’s Get To Work
Frontier Landscaping offers professional expertise and support for residential and commercial clients committed to environmentally-conscious landscaping. While the best time for testing soil drainage and groundwater levels is in late winter months, we are available to walk you through the planning process for a rain garden at any time of year:
- Site assessment & testing
- Garden location
- Soil amendment & excavation
- Planting requirements
- Design aesthetic
- Maintenance goals
- Compliance with city/county regulations
- Long-term success
Call (360) 574-8979 or contact us to get started on your path to a cleaner, greener future.
Additional Reading: Washington State Extension Rain Garden Guide
At Frontier Landscaping we receive many requests for Retaining Walls. This is one of the more frequently discussed additions with regards to a clients’ hardscaping, when deciding on their Landscape designs. This can be with a brand-new landscape or an addition to an existing landscape. Some of our clients live on more sloped areas and it is not unusual to want to create flat or level spots within the Outdoor areas to get more usage from the property. When deciding on a Landscape or improvement to the existing Landscape, at Frontier Landscaping we discuss the best way to increase the living spaces and or enhance by adding these features to the design.
A Few attributes of adding retaining walls
- Creates more useable Outdoor Spaces
- Rapid Installation
- Creates vertical, horizontal areas as well as adding curvature
- Concrete, wood, synthetics, brick, blocks, etc.
- Wide variety of colors, sizes and textures
- Provides support
One method of building Retaining Walls consists of modular concrete blocks that interlock with each other. They can be used to hold back a sloping face of soil to provide a solid, vertical front. Without adequate retention, slopes can cave, slump or slide. With construction of our Retaining Walls, higher and steeper walls can be constructed with the ability to retain the force of earth pressure created by the backfill soil, giving more flexibility to your design choices.
Retaining Walls can be installed in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and textures. They can incorporate straight or curved lines, steps, and corners. They are ideal for not only slope support, but also for widening areas that would otherwise be unusable due to the natural slope of the land. Retaining walls are often used for grade changes, and for other functional reasons such as widening driveways, walkways, or creating more space in a patio outdoor area. More usable area for your Landscapes and Outdoor Spaces.
Retaining Walls provide lateral support to vertical slopes of soil. They retain soil which would otherwise collapse into a more natural shape. The retained soil is referred to as backfill.
The warm weather is here, and if you are like many people, you are beginning to clean up here and there. You may even be looking to make improvements to your property involving landscape, including new walkways, patios, or walls. Hardscaping can make any yard or property look like a million bucks.
What is a hardscape?
The term is something that is not known by everyone, as hardscaping is its own category of landscaping. It usually consists of hard design elements such as stone, concrete, or brick. Some popular hardscape features include outdoor kitchens and living spaces, garden walls, paths and walkways, as well as the maintenance and repairs that come with maintaining these features.
How to give your home that Wow Factor…
Maybe you have been thinking about adding the perfect entertainment area, a stonewall for privacy, or beautiful walkways for your garden or something more. If we might suggest, you might focus on these elements…
Take a look at your Landscape… Below are a few questions to ask before making a hard decision on a Hardscape…
- How do you want it to function?
- Would you like a space to entertain?
- A Space to relax?
- A play space for the kids?
The beauty of answering these questions is that by doing so, you are that much closer to getting exactly what you want when you talk with one of our experts at Frontier Landscaping.
Now, Let’s talk materials…
Some materials you might have seen, maybe liked in someone else’s Landscape or you liked elements of it, but might want a different color, etc. Below are a few more questions to consider before going forward.
- What overall tone or atmosphere do you want these spaces to project?
- What kind of feeling do you want yourself and others to experience?
- What do you visualize the overall, finished Landscape to look like?
Again, this will bring you even closer to having exactly what you want.
Always Ask the Experts!
You can envision your new space for entertaining. You have found the perfect shady place for the kids. You have picked out the perfect hammock placement for naps on weekends…Now, you aren’t sure what to do next. Well, it’s time to ask the experts at Frontier. A Professional opinion is exactly what is needed to make your dreams into reality. By doing that, not only will the elements be in the final project, but it is likely that it will even come out better than you had imagined.
At Frontier Landscaping we understand how important hardscaping is to the overall look and feel of your landscape. When you need help deciding what landscaping work needs to be done, be sure to contact our expert team! Our Frontier Landscaping experts will walk you through our entire design process, and ensure that you will feel confident and clear that your project will be the best that it can be.
Contact US to schedule your appointment!
Maybe you are yearning for your own backyard version of our very own breathtaking Multnomah Falls. While you may not be able to recreate one of the world’s natural wonders, you can certainly be inspired to do so. That way, every time you look at your own private waterfall, you will be reminded of that spectacular, breathtaking view…
There are many ways to create this personal water feature, but generally a backyard waterfall consists of two or more pools or bodies of water at different heights. It is just one idea that you would want to discuss with our Frontier Landscape Professionals to see what works for your personal Landscape.
Natural or man-made rocks and boulders are often incorporated into home-based waterfalls. Also, with the guidance of our staff, you can design whatever course you want the waterfall to take… A direct drop (freefall), interweaving channels, or one that breaks into a series of small holding pools or stair steps.
Since the Summer Season is nearly here, now is the perfect time to contact Frontier Landscaping to schedule your appointment to create your garden oasis.
Contact US or call 360-574-8979
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At Frontier Landscaping, we believe that Walkways lead company to a welcoming home, meander through flower beds, and even provide passage through a yard. They also should mesh well with both your home’s architectural design and surrounding landscaping. Whether you are starting off with new landscape designs, or removing and starting over- Frontier Landscaping can help you arrive at a plan and project that enhances your Outdoor Living Spaces, adds value to the equity in your home and enhances your Landscape Design…
- Adds equity as well as atmosphere to your Outdoor Living Spaces.
- Creates a finished look of Design element and style.
- Connects one area to another allowing your Outdoor Living Spaces to flow.
- Texture and finishes as well as practicality.
Making your selections
There is a seemingly endless supply of walkway material ideas available out there, and it seems anything that can create a pathway is a possibility. Everything from pavers, timber wood, stamped concrete, brick design layouts, and natural stone are just some of the materials available to give our clients at Frontier Landscaping an idea of what options are available to create the designs that fit your vision and fulfill your needs.
Walkways/Pathways through your garden or landscape are a great way to show off your favorite flowerbeds, your overall landscaping or to invite someone on a journey… Our Professionals at Frontier Landscaping can help you on your way to the perfect look that suits you.
Call to schedule an appointment, we look forward to hearing from you!