Water systems are methods for guiding the movement of water across a landscape.
In addition to soil type and pH, a spot’s site conditions are also described by how much water is present. The scale ranges from wet to dry, with moderate dampness often referred to as “mesic”.
Plants prefer different levels of moisture, and even a small yard can offer a variety of situations. Putting a plant in the right spot will help it to thrive without supplemental watering.
Changing the moisture conditions on a property can be as easy as moving a downspout. Pointing a downspout onto the driveway sends all the water collected from the roof out to the street, from where it goes directly to the lakes, along with any pollutants it picked up along the way. Aiming the downspout into a rain garden or other planting bed will keep plants happy, as well as safely filtering and storing pollutants.
A downspout can also be used to fill a rain barrel. A rain barrel is simply a container that stores water. The water can be used later to help plants through a dry spell. Along with being less expensive than municipal water, stored rain is also better for plants, which don’t like the chemicals commonly added to tap water.
A more advanced type of water system is a swale, a type of shallow channel that moves water across a landscape. This can be used to absorb water that flows down a hill, to spread out water that collects in a low spot, or to otherwise redistribute rain as it falls on a yard.
Water systems can add dynamic movement to a landscape, as well as allowing the property owner to maximize use of a valuable resource. As we will see in the next post, our yards can provide for us, rather than demanding constant expensive inputs. This is just one way in which natural yards bring wealth into our lives.