“Inviting the Rain” Permablitz

I walked Indie, today, in an early morning rain. As I hopped over streams of rainwater  flowing down the street along the curbsides; I thought of the information that we exchanged on Sunday at our “Invite the Rain” Permablitz. During the permablitz, we installed a rain garden and talked about designing systems that manage storm water in ways that can help to protect our natural resources.

Storm water management has become a serious issue in our communities. With increased development; rainwater has no where to go but to run off from our roofs, streets, lawns into our streams and rivers. It carries with it non-point source pollutant. That is, people pollution: fertilizers, pet waste, oil and grease from driveways and parking lots, sediment from soil erosion, as well as nitrogen, phosphorous, and heavy metals which settle from the atmosphere. This, in turn, reduces our water quality.  Consider, also, without giving water the opportunity to infiltrate into the ground, the ground water sources are depleted.  We talked about methods of slowing the water down to benefit us and our environment through the use of rain gardens, rain barrels, living roofs, swales and berms.

Here is an information sheet that I put together for our permablitz that outlines the hows and whys of storm water management in general and rain gardens in particular. It refers to a resource list which is far from comprehensive but can get you started. I, highly recommend, visiting Rutgers Water Resources Program’s website. I took their valuable rain garden workshop which was informative and inspiring.

Here is the plan for our rain garden. It was a bit of a stretch considering minimal slope and limited space but with redundancy built in and with some contingency plans in cue; we  decided to go for it.  Click on the image if you want to read the schematic.




Here are some pictures of our permablitz efforts. I hope you enjoy! And I hope you’ll consider finding a way to invite the rain into your landscape!

Paul helped to dig the inlet trench to hold the 30′ of 4″ corrugated pipe which will bring the storm water into the rain garden.

The pipe was eventually covered with 6″ of soil so that it would not be damaged by walking on top of it. This set us up for some pretty deep digging for the rain garden.

I decided to dig the basin of the garden in preparation for the permablitz when I found that the area was mostly rock! Thank goodness for Bill who kept me moving forward when I was ready to give up!

The permablitz participants were dynamite! Here they are bringing leaf mulch to the garden.

We talked about several ways of measuring slope and chose to use the optical level for accuracy. Vanessa and Andrea picked up the information really fast and made sure that our rain garden basin was level.

Andrea holding the stadia for Vanessa.

Fine tuning the bed.

Meanwhile, a team led by Mike was taking care of the overflow trench. This was a job I didn’t even dream of finishing on Sunday but this crew made it look like a piece of cake!

It’s great to have Noah back from his permaculture adventures in Australia. Here he is  jumping into action!

Meenal and Richard working the trench. Now, that’s the spirit!!!

The activity in our little backyard aroused some curiosity from my neighbor. Our easter-egger gifted her a lovely blue egg while I packed up a pound of red wrigglers for Olena’s first worm composting bin!

Howard looks great with a REALLY large load of woodchips to fill in the overflow trench. It is my hope that the overflow will drain away from the garden to a swale and berm in the back of the property while allowing water to infiltrate the soil along the trench’s 50′ length. We did a percolation test at a location toward the end of the trench and found that the water percolated down at a rate of 1.65″ per hour…not great but passable and okay for a drainage trench. If this were in the rain garden area; I would have, probably, amended the soil with sand. (The rain garden’s rate was 4.25″ per hour averaged between two test holes.)

We talked about plants that are appropriate for the rain garden’s basin, slopes, and buffer areas. Then, we laid them out according to design for planting.

And without missing a beat, the crew was on it.

Rita getting ready to plant Little Bluestem – Andropogon scoparius

Bill using the posthole digger to prepare some holes for planting. Very clever idea for a difficult planting area.

Luke leveling stepping stones which lead down the slope to the basin of the garden.

Consultating with each other on the best planting scheme for the slope and stone path. The outcome was beautiful and the effect, needfully, softened the steep side slopes of the garden.

Finally, a break. We enjoyed a delicious potluck meal AND….

Bill’s story telling!

Vanessa’s story listening.

Wow! I couldn’t have done it without you all; your positive energy and your enthusiastic efforts! Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to our next permablitz!

I have yet to install the downspout and rainbarrels which will feed the rain garden. I hope to have this completed within the month of May. I’ll let you know what happens!

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2 Responses to “Inviting the Rain” Permablitz

  1. Great job! Glad you posted!

    • micvel says:

      Thanks! I can’t wait to get the garden hooked up to the roof stormwater flow to see how it, actually, functions.
      Spoke with someone yesterday who had great thoughts about alternative overflow options should our trench be insufficient.
      I can, theoretically, see where that may be necessary (and not terribly difficult) but….we shall see!
      Update to come…hopefully, before the month is on its way out! (Also, hope to get the planting design out in that update.)

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