Rooftops, pavings, and other hardscapes can negatively affect landscapes and the environment. An unfortunate side effect of these impermeable surfaces, rain runoff, can deprive garden beds of natural irrigation and prevent groundwater tables from replenishing. It can cause erosion, slides, and even flash floods. Stormwater can pick up contaminates and lead to increased pollution of streams, rivers, and oceans.

A landscape designed specifically to better manage runoff can result in a healthier environment and lower irrigation bills. Here are some landscape design strategies handling rain runoff intelligently.

Rain Chains: These clever little contraptions can be hung from trees or roof eave, and they can direct water straight into soil to fill groundwater tables.

Permeable Pathways: Gravel walkways and soil that is mulched with organic material and other permeable surfaces make for ideal surfaces to absorb rain to keep water on your property. Flagstone or even pavers with generous gaps can give water a place to drain into the soil.

Rain Gardens: Turn the low spaces that receive runoff from hardscapes or roofing into mini rain gardens. The key to designing a rain garden is to measure the drainage area and multiply by 20 percent if its sandy soil, 30-35 percent for loam soil, and 45-60 for clay. This technique ensures your rain garden will hold as much water as possible.

Dry Creek Beds: Dry riverbeds or creek beds can solve runoff problems while adding natural beauty. This simple solution can slow the flow of water and give it time to seep into the soil while preventing erosion. To give it a splash of color, incorporate plants that like wet environments like ferns, reeds, and hedges.

Divots & Cross Pitches: Creating attractive divots with lush plants or constructing cross pitches that feed water to planted islands are other alternatives for retaining water.

A thoughtful landscape design takes advantage of the natural terrain to work with nature rather than against it. The results can bring benefits that are three-fold: Sustainability, beauty and functionality.

At TMS Architects, we offer full-service sustainable building and design that extends to landscapes as well. Contact us to set up a consultation.