- UC Marin Master Gardener Events & Classes
Garden Help from UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Farmers Markets
- Help Desk
- Growing in your garden now - blueberries
- Inviting butterflies into the garden
- Paying attention to mushrooms
- Compost for every corner of your spring garden
- What's the best way to plant a fruit tree?
- How to protect plants from frost
- What's that plant?
- Bright spots of color help lift the drabness of the winter garden
- Books for Marin gardeners
- Benefits of School Gardens
- Trees: not just nice to look at
- Dealing with mosquitos
- Epilobium – California fuchsia
- Why bees matter, and how you can help
- Picking the Right Plant for the Right Place in Your Garden
- What's That Plant?
- Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh
- Late Summer Color
- Growing Summer Squash
- Short on space? Containers to the rescue...
- Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
- These plants are true companions
- Companion planting in the vegetable garden
- Get Grounded – Healthy Soil Does Matter
- Mushrooms on the March
- Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables
- Rodents like it Warm
- Know What Makes an Invasive Species Invasive
- California Natives - Plant Like a Native
- Consider a Simple Water-Catchment System and Rain Garden/Bioswale Before Winter Rains Arrive
- Have You Scheduled a FREE Bay-Friendly Garden Walk?
- A Green Autumn
- Rx for Pests: Ants
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- Colorful Drought-Tolerant Plants Thrive in Marin
- Water Restrictions and Recognizing Signs of Water Stress
- UC Researcher Is Helping Plants Survive the Drought
- Summer Is Perfect For Peppers
- Do the Leaves on Your Trees Look Scorched?
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress
- Spring is the Time for Potatoes, Asparagus and Citrus
- Don't Let Stink Bugs... Bug Your Vegetables
- Harvesting Berries
- Water Heroes
- Natural Cold Storage
- Fruit Trees; Why We Treat Them in Dormancy
- Fondness for Old Friends
- What Happens to Garden Bad Guys in Winter?
- Plants that aren't blown away by the wind
- A hill o' beans
- Fruit tree thinning
- Fragrant plants: Add some chocolate or Kool-Aid to your garden
- Top 10 resolutions for Marin gardeners
- Trees with interesting bark shine in winter
- Who says your garden has to be green?
- Plant bulbs now for spring beauty
- Gardener's checklist for fall
- Cover crops boost soil in vegetable beds
- Rx: Living with deer
- Growing berries in Marin
- How to build healthy soil
- Gardener's checklist for summer
- Water-saving tips for the home garden
- Gardener's checklist for spring
- Stop the popping - Controlling hairy bittercress
- How to control aphids
- Brightening up the winter garden
- Selecting a fruit tree
- What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden
- Rain, rain, don't go away
- Gardener's checklist for winter
- Getting rid of rats
- Fall: a time for planning and planting
- Asparagus: spears for years
- Lawn: use it or lose it
- Rx for powdery mildew
- Community Outreach Projects of UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Great Gardening Information
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- Marin Master Gardener Independent Journal Articles
- How to Become a Master Gardener
Rain, rain, don't go away
For years, residential and landscape architects have recommended that rainwater be whisked away from our homes as expediently as possible. Consequently, most of our homes come equipped with drainage systems that include rooftop gutters and impervious concrete driveways and patios that divert thousands of gallons of rainwater into PVC pipes. From there it sloshes its way through our streets, dumps into storm drains and creeks, and gushes into the bay.
That keeps our homes dry, but it has environmental consequences, including increased water pollution, accelerated erosion and warmer temperatures in our waterways. And as everyone who pays a water bill knows, water is a valuable commodity that should be conserved and retained.
To alleviate these problems, today's landscape architects and environmentalists design drainage systems that include strategically located berms, swales and rain gardens, as well as water-permeable surfaces that let rainwater slowly infiltrate the ground rather than being diverted to pipes. The goal is threefold: create systems in which rainwater flows are slowed, spread out and allowed to sink into the ground.
Berms and swales: Contouring the ground allows rainwater to be channeled and captured on site. By digging out trenches of varying lengths and depths and "berming up" the edges, rainwater can be moved from high points to low points where it can slow, spread and sink. Some gardeners choose to celebrate the beauty of their swales by creating seasonal ponds. Placing rocks and boulders around the edges to hold the soil is not only functional, but attractive.
Rain gardens: Building a rain garden in your own yard is probably the easiest and most cost-efficient thing you can do to reduce your contribution to stormwater pollution. Designs can be any shape or size, employing a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants that are adaptable to both wet and dry conditions. Beneath the plants, layers of mulch, soil and sometimes gravel catch excess water and slowly disperse it through the ground and back into the water table. Rain gardens can be formal or informal, include wildflowers and ornamental grasses, and incorporate pathways and other landscape elements. They can be built by hand and have the potential to save thousands of gallons of water. The University of Wisconsin-Extension has produced an illustrated rain garden how-to manual for homeowners.
Permeable surfaces: Next time you are planning a new path, patio or driveway, consider using a permeable surface that allows water to seep through it or around it. Gravel and mulch are obvious examples, but stone, pavers and concrete can be permeable, too, so long as there are crevices where water can percolate.
There has been an explosion of permeable materials on the market, including porous cement concrete, porous asphalt concrete, and pavers that are specially designed to allow water to flow through. Stop by your local landscape supplier for samples. Some carry high price tags, but don't be daunted. Old broken-up concrete and bricks, floor tiles and pieces of wood can be suitable, too, provided there are spaces where water can soak in between.
Next time there’s a heavy rainstorm, don your rain gear and head outdoors. Make a thorough survey of where the water is flowing and pooling. Even small changes in your landscape can make a big difference in reducing runoff and keeping precious rainwater on your property.
Faith Brown, Nanette Londeree, Marie Narlock, Dave Phelps