Making the Most of The Rain

JUL 08

In the midst of sticky summer heat, I can't help but look forward to an evening shower to wash away the humidity and breathe cool, fresh life into the air. I know I am not the only one who enjoys the event; the hot, dry earth must also rejoice in the wet relief. Water trickles down into the soil and thirsty roots take up their fill, while animals and insects alike gather around pools teeming with hydration. The rain even rids the air of pollen and other allergens, giving stuffy noses a brief reprieve. But when steady rains are few and far between, it becomes more and more important to know how to make the most of rain water when it does arrive.

One effective method for reusing rain water is with a rain barrel. Rain barrels are designed to collect, store, and redirect rain water into gardens or other landscapes that are able to absorb water. This method promotes effective watering, aids in self-sufficiency, and is right in line with the environmental big picture. Many suburban developments are designed in such a way that run-off rain water washes away into storm drains, travels into local waterways, and ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. This water is often polluted with sediments and chemicals. A rain barrel makes water management in your yard practical and efficient, allowing you to use/reuse water where and when you need it.  For more information on rain barrels visit the ICRPRB website.

Planting smart also makes the most of rain showers. Plants that enjoy more moisture are generally successful along north and east facing slopes, while drought and heat tolerant plants are suited for south and west facing areas. Be mindful of areas with poor drainage, windy locations and slopes, so you know how and when to water. Contrary to what you may believe, even though hills and slopes see a lot of run-off rain water, that water is not soaking into the ground and the soil dries quickly as gravity pulls the water on down the slope away from your plants.  Planting drought tolerant plants with sturdy root systems, like Juniper, will tolerate the lack of moisture as well as keep erosion under control. On the flip side, knowing which plants prefer moist soil, like Summersweet or Inkberry Holly, can help you plan a "rain garden" for an area of your yard that retains sufficient moisture.  Visit our website for more on effective watering techniques.

Amending the soil also compliments the benefits of the rain. Mulch conserves water by significantly reducing moisture evaporation. The rocky, clay soil we suffer from in this area can contribute to poor drainage. Amending the soil with added organic matter will better facilitate proper drainage and absorption for your plants.

When the skies open up and offer a bounty of that precious H2O, know what you can do to make the most of the event! Your yard and gardens will thank you!