Looking ahead to spring and planning to manage rainwater onsite.
You may remember the extensive flooding in Houston last spring that was directly attributable to a lack of green space; the city had spread out in all directions, covering the surrounding prairie with impermeable concrete and asphalt.
With the increases in storm frequency and severity we all need to consider how we can prevent flooding. Here are a few strategies:
1. Permeable Paving
If you are considering any type of paving whether for driveway or patio, take a few moments to look at the options for permeable pavements. There is a good resource here from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
Almost every paving stone company now has a permeable paver on the market from Oaks to Unilock to Belgard When permeable pavers are used, water hitting the driveway is quickly infiltrated into the ground where it is purified, cooled and returned to the underground aquifers. You can the see the difference between non-permeable and permeable pavers in this short video.
2. Install a rain garden or dry stream bed to collect runoff.
This swale was built by a client to take care of flooding on her property. We planted it in the fall with a collection of water loving plants, many native to Ontario. The plants will clean and filter the water before it runs off into the natural area behind the property. Here’s a good resource on rain gardens from the TRCA.
3. Plant a tree.
Trees can manage up to 100 gallons of water per day, not to mention cleaning the air, providing shade and absorbing carbon. Check out Trees Canada for lots of interesting facts. There are many fine native trees from which to choose. This is a closeup of Blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana), a beautiful, underused and compact tree native to the Carolinian region of southern Ontario. Many cities offer free trees so check out the urban forestry page of your municipality.
4. Plant native.
Echinacea, switch grass (panicum virgatum), rudbeckia, ninebark (physocarpus), white cedar (thuja occidentalis) serviceberry (amelanchier) all develop extensive root systems that go deep into the soil and absorb quantities of water. They also provide food for pollinators …
….and look great in winter. Credit Valley Conservation has extensive information on native plants.
This has been an extremely cold winter in southern Ontario and there may be damage to some plants. This yew in my garden is one of several with discolouration. Japanese maples and other Zone 6 plants may also be adversely affected.Just in case I lose my favourite this year, here’s a photo from late October.
Stay warm, think of spring, and if you need some landscaping done contact your contractor now. They get booked up early.