Abundant Harvests - garden info,  water wisdom

Making the best of drought and flood

rain barrel overflowing

Seems like we’re getting the weather extremes this year.  A summer of extreme drought, water rationing, and lawn removal.  And winter forecasts are for record-breaking rains (but all that water isn’t here yet).

How do we make the best of all these extremes?

On one hand, we must make the best of “too little water” in our landscapes.  My information sheet Drought Tolerant Sustainable Gardens is now up on Scribd.  In it, I explain why gravel + suck-ulents are not productive gardens; they are not sustainable gardens.


On the other hands, we must be prepared for (potentially) a lot of water coming this way, this winter.  I’ve been writing on this blog about rainwater harvesting, and there are more posts to come in the series (which seems to have grown far beyond my initial estimate of a “3 post” series).

Rain barrel overflow port

One thing to keep in mind about ALL our rainwater harvesting features is the concept of “overflow.”  This means that, regardless of which feature(s) you are building, you design into your system a safe and constructive way that “too much water” can escape.

On some rain barrels, for instance, you might see an overflow drain hole, high on the barrel.  That way, if there is too much water, it can get out.  As you situate the water feature in your garden, pay attention to that overflow, and make sure that it has a channel to run down, and that channel leads someplace constructive, as opposed to destructive.

You don’t want your overflow to carve an erosion channel through your garden; you do want to direct your overflow to someplace that can handle it, such as a deep mulch pit, or the storm drain system.

In the photo at the top of the post, although the homeowner seems to have gravel alongside the building, there is no planned place for the excess to go.  In the second photo, the black overflow tube (when attached) could be directed into a mulch pit, or out to the storm drains.

Note that the overflow should be at least the same size/diameter as the inflow (gutter).  That way, if the gutter is FULL of water streaming in, there is just as much room for the water to escape safely.