Rain gardens

September 13, 2012 in Blog


I was inspired by the garden planning workshop at the beginning of my challenge (As we were building a garden from almost nothing). Our backyard had only a few fruit trees and a row of lilacs along the fence.

One of the things that was discussed at the workshop was the principle of of swaling. This is where you create mounded beds which trap run off water instead of releasing it to the storm water. Our garden slopes away from the house so is in a perfect position to utilize this concept. I now have a number of these mounds contoured to trap run off. On a bigger scale you can see this principle put in to practice at the national arboretum.

My research also led me to looking at rain gardens and aquaponics, another principle which uses the rain water from your roof to create temporary water gardens. I know in Canberra most people have rain water tanks to trap water for later use but this is an alternative for using at least some of the roof water.

Does any one know if this has been put into practice in Canberra?

Melbourne has a scheme for promoting this practice as they want to stop storm water entering the harbor. Should we be doing the same?

18 comments to 'Rain gardens'

  1. @Wombat01 I have never heard of the rain gardens. I would be interested in finding out more information if you come across any. We live in an older house and do not have rain water tanks (although we would like them).

  2. @Wombat01 Sounds a wonderful idea! I haven’t heard of it either but I’d be interested to know more if you get any more info.

  3. @Wombat01 @Stanwix @Anna21 – There will be a workshop in the Sustain ABILITY series that will cover rain gardens titled ‘Irrigation & Low Water Use Food Gardening’, however it won’t be on until Saturday 24th November, 10am – 11.30am. If you would like to book in early, let me know! :)

  4. @Anna21 @Stanwix I found a couple of websites including Melbourne Water. Also YouTube has a few good demos of how to install one. They are very popular in the USA and are catching on in europe along with forest gardens and roof gardens. Roof gardens feature on many of the houses in Grand Designs. I don’t know if anyone has used them in Canberra.

    • @Wombat Thanks!

    • @Wombat01 I’ve been enjoying Grand Designs revisited on iView again lately! Loved the house built out of predominantly recycled materials (bottles, tires, etc.) they had done a great job of being self sustainable with a reed garden to purify water so they could reuse it, etc. I also liked the straw bale house in the latest episode, but that required a large number of compromises of their eco principles I felt so it wasn’t my favourite. I’ve been doing a bit more research into straw bale houses recently, would be nice to do when we get to do extensions on our little home (more living space as our family grows will be essential in Canberra winters)!

      • @Taryn Some of those Grand Design houses really do set a benchmark for sustainable houses. The earthship one in particular was very inspiring. It would be good to build a house with mostly recycled materials and have community volunteers to help. The reality however is that it is very difficult and expensive building houses in Canberra especially if you want something more energy efficient.

        • Yes, similar to UK I guess, hence why they went to France to build their houses! Hmmm…

          Oh, better go and stop one Cheeky little Monkey from climbing the book cases!

          • @Taryn I think there is an earthship house in Australia but not in an urban area. There are a lot of problems with building permits for such houses so I think it is easier to build in the bush.

    • @Wombat01 I like the idea of having a roof garden on my carport – wonder how much work would need doing to make it strong enough structurally to hold soil?

  5. It was good to see Cally ‘s drainage system installed down the side of her house. I can now see the possibilities for my side garden. It will involve a lot of digging but should improve the drainage without loosing the water down the storm water.

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