So, what is sustainable? What activities, pursuits, and developments meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? This really is an elusive question and an ambiguous word. We don’t completely know how much energy and resources we can use today while still leaving enough for those who will follow. What is ‘enough’, for how many, and at what level of consumption? Maybe a better term is ‘low impact’, ‘less demanding’, or even ‘resource sensitive’. Whatever the phrase one thing is clear, as North Americans we need to re-learn how to use less of nearly everything in our daily lives.
Your backyard pond can be a source of great pleasure and enjoyment, adding to your landscape what few other features can; including, sound, movement, and wildlife attraction. However, while a water feature has potential to add so much to your landscape, it can be difficult to make it actually belong with the landscape. Here’s a few simple tips to create a beautiful element, rather than an out of place eyesore:
- build it a bit larger than you initially think – chances are you’ll wish it was bigger if you start too small.
- use of irregular, flowing lines and kidney shapes for your pond are far more natural than perfect circles
- break-up the perimeter with a variety of rock sizes, and be sure to have some of them stick out of the water. Not only does this create visual interest, but also a place for turtles to bask in the sun.
- create a seamless transition to the surrounding garden beds by using similar plants both in and out of the water – various grasses, sedges, and irises fit the bill nicely.
- add wood – look at almost any natural water feaure and you’ll surely find some fallen timber & stumps especially in a stream.
- keep the waterfall in scale to your property – you want sound and movement, but not Niagara Falls. Nothing looks more un-natural than a flat backyard with that ’mole hill’ waterfall.
- create variation in the types of water movement - small and large falls, cascades, and riffles add different sound tones and visual appeal
- be generous with the size of the surrounding garden beds to blend the pond and stream into your yard.
This really is just the tip of the iceberg, but things to think about when planning your pond. Feel free to contact us for more information.
A rain garden is basically an area where water collects and infiltrates on your property, rather than rushing to the municipal storm sewer system.
Occasionally, if your soil has good drainage and plants are well established, simply adjusting the landscape so that downspouts and paved surfaces drain into existing gardens is all that’s needed. However, many plants don’t tolerate saturated roots for long periods of time, and more water runs off one’s roof than people realize. More often the required location and storage capacity of the garden area must be determined prior to construction. Rain garden plants are then selected to match the situation, not the other way around.
Building a rain garden into your landscape design is beneficial for many reasons: they improve water quality by filtering runoff; provide localized flood control by reducing the surge of water to urban creeks following a heavy rainfall; are aesthetically pleasing; and provide interesting planting opportunities. They also encourage wildlife and biodiversity while tying together buildings and their surrounding environments in attractive and environmentally advantageous ways.
A rain garden provides a way to use and optimize any rain that falls, reducing or avoiding the need for irrigation. Rain gardens allow a household or building to deal with excessive rainwater runoff without burdening the public storm water systems, and since the water will infiltrate the ground within a day or two, they do not allow mosquitoes to breed.