by Charlene Burgi
This is the perfect time to let your garden reveal how you can passively collect rainwater. The ground is saturated and we are still getting some showers. Excess water is exiting your property via drain lines or sheeting off of impermeable surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and patios. See if you can find ways to divert the water before it reaches these exit points by directing the water back into the garden rather than down the gutters and storm drains.
Diverting water can be done in several ways. When the soil is not saturated, create lower elevation planting areas off of the impermeable surfaces where water exits. Grade the area so the water finds a new course to take, remembering to direct the water away from the foundation of your home! See if this would be a good spot to create a rain garden, or a series of bioswales that gently move the water around the garden.
Is there enough organic matter in the soil to absorb the water? If not, what can you do to improve the conditions without spending a lot of green to be green? One method I use is to bury the byproduct from my paper shredder. Start by digging a trench where you want the water directed. Fill the trench with shredded paper and cover with wood chips. This allows me to eliminate shredded junk mail, use mulch from wood chips obtained from a local arborist, and create a new sponge in my yard for water to collect and soak in. This cheap sponge will break down fast so you can continue to add more paper and mulch as it decomposes.
Reminder: “Go Native” Workshop Oct. 24
Are you interested in attracting birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden? “Go Native – Planting for Pollinators” is the class for you. You will learn how native plants, as well as other plant types, can minimize the problems in your garden and attract these beneficial pollinators. Come see us at the last of our 2009 Bay-Friendly Gardening classes on October 24th at Marin Art & Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. The class is from 9 a.m. to noon in the Livermore ll Room. Cost of workshop: FREE! To register, email the Water Conservation Department or call us at 945-1512.