by Marie Chieppo
For centuries water has been used as a focal point in gardens. Fountains, waterfalls and reflecting pools provide a symphony for the senses and add interest to any landscape. The extreme weather conditions we have been experiencing remind us of the ecological balance we need to work towards with many issues. Using water in more responsible ways is at the top of the list. The urgency for more and more people to harvest rain water, control erosion and reduce runoff is no longer in the future. We must address it now.
For years my gardens have been composed of mostly native plant material combined with particular non-natives. I participated in the ELA’s 2017 August Native Garden Tour, which caused me to take a critical look at my yard. Included on my property was an area where the soil was terrible; erosion and leaching were my biggest problems. I also have neglected plants at the bottom of the property in dire need of water. Rather than fight with it, I decided to have a dry river installed.
Ben Crouch, an ELA member and xeriscaping pro, came to my rescue. Using science combined with art he and his team created a beautiful and useful structure. The various shapes, textures and colors of the stones work beautifully with the landscape. With great precision his team dug and graded the area, buried pipes, created a network of catchment basins and swales and placed the stones.
Dry River Ideas
On a larger scale, as our urban areas continue to grow, the repurposing and harvesting of water will be front and center. In the midst of historic droughts and rainstorms, the need for mechanisms that address these issues will become increasingly important.
Hopefully the reality of how climates are being affected will mitigate water consumption. In the meantime, we will continue to use dry rivers, rain gardens, permeable surfaces and other measures. Our ecological systems are counting on it.
About the Author
Marie Chieppo is a Certified Massachusetts Master Gardener and Certified Native Plant Designer and Horticulturist. She is Principal at Masters at Work Garden Design, LLC where she has been creating outdoors spaces for over 15 years.
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