Designing Gardens to Beat Heavy Rain and Floods
Many residents – and their gardens – have only just recovered from the flooding that followed the three Atlantic storms that battered the UK, as February was the wettest month on record for parts of England and Wales. And forecasters say there are likely to be more storms in the years ahead.
Botanists are now calling on homeowners to take steps to help reduce flooding. Here Compass, landscape and garden design experts in the south west of England, shows gardeners how.
A number of plants will do surprisingly well in the wettest of conditions. If you want an outdoor space which is full of vibrant colours, then the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) will produce buttercup-yellow flowers in March and April. The perennial astilbe has pink, white or dark red spikes which come into flower in late spring and early summer.
For larger gardens, planting giant rhubarb (Gunnera manicata) will result in some spectacular greenery, but no actual fruit. Japanese painted fern will provide some striking grey-green fronds as long as it is planted in a relatively sheltered spot. At Compass Garden and Landscape Design we will be able to advise you what plants will do best in your soil.
Hedges or Fences?
On balance, growing hedges is a better bet than installing fencing. Although most hedges don’t like a lot of water, they do create a solid barrier and slow down the flow of water, which means you are less likely to suffer any damaging soil erosion.
If you’d prefer a fence, either as a boundary with a neighbour or as an internal feature, then waterproof posts and gravel boards will cope better with a lot of rain than plain wooden panels.
Looking After Your Lawn
While lots of rain means your lawn looks lush and green, too much can damage it as not enough oxygen will get through to the roots. You may have to reseed damaged areas later in the year. If you aerate the lawn regularly in spring or summer, either with a garden fork or special spiked shoes, then this should improve the drainage and minimise the chance of flood damage later in the year.
In the longer term, artificial grass may be a better solution. If this is planted on a base of aggregates and sharp sand, it should drain better than natural grass.
Create a Rain Garden
These features are also known as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). They are often put in low-lying areas of a garden, and they are designed to temporarily hold and soak in rainfall runoff from hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways and patios, or from a natural slope or downpipe.
Ideally, rain gardens should be located in absorbent but free-draining soil, and include shrubs, perennials, grasses and flowers that can absorb a lot of rainwater. In prolonged heavy rain, any excess water can be directed to existing drains.
Landscape Garden Design in South West England from Compass
At Compass Garden and Landscape Design we design gardens and offer gardening advice for customers in Somerset, Wiltshire and the south west of England, as well as Newport and other parts of Wales. If your area has a high average rainfall, or is susceptible to flooding, we can pick the plants which are most likely to flourish.
We provide a full survey when we will create our first sketches, which will be followed by detailed designs before starting work. If you would like to find out more, send us a message via our contact page or call us on 01225 949581.