A Classy Rain Garden

This volunteers’ week we hear from DCRT volunteer Barry Caldwell about some fantastic work he’s been doing during lockdown to help us on our mission to reduce flood risk in and around Chesterfield.

Inspired by Debbie’s recent weekly newsletter article on rain gardens, I thought I would give it a go, albeit a little different from the original instructions! I already had two water butts being fed from my garage roof but when full and if I forgot to take water out with a watering can, they were draining down the drive into the roadside drains, especially in winter.

Of course, this is not great for ‘slowing the flow’ (nor my drive!). So, I found an old water butt and used materials already lying around the garden for this rain garden butt and irrigation system that will use excess water from the rain garden butt to drain into three large plant containers and two large plant pots. I can also take water out of the rain garden water butt via the tap at the bottom if needed.

For the rain garden butt, I filled the base with some limestone chippings (1) and covered these with membrane (2), as per the rain garden instructions. I connected a short piece of piping from the second water butt and fed it into a deep plant pot filled with gravel (3) in the rain garden butt and filled with soil. I planted a bamboo (4) that I had spare from elsewhere in the garden as they are quite thirsty plants and in themselves will take up some water.

In case of the rain garden butt filling up and overflowing, I decided to run a 12mm piece of piping from the rain garden butt overflow hole into the other containers/plant pots down my drive, there is already a natural gradient. I drilled 4mm holes every 2cms in the piping to allow water from the rain garden butt overflow to dribble into the containers/plant pots if the rain garden water butt ever fills up with water (5).

To add a touch of class (not something I’m known for!) I put a bit of champagne cork I found in the garden from last Christmas in the end of the piping to stop it draining out (6). My wife is always telling me to ‘put a cork in it’! The full rain garden and irrigation system (7) will hopefully ‘slow the flow’ as well as saving me from watering the containers/pots as frequently as before! I might be the only person now excited for rain / winter to see how it all works (if at all). I just need a panda now to eat the bamboo shoots!