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When it rains hard, these drainage systems move runoff quickly, naturally, attractively.

How well does your garden stand up to heavy rain? Do you find areas where water collects and stands for several days? Water-eroded gullies on hillsides? Signs of flooding near driveways and walkways?

Drainage channels can carry surplus water off slopes and paved areas and away from your house. Here, drainage ditches in four gardens flaunt their function. Instead of sending water into underground pipes, they move runoff in rock channels and fabricated stream beds that outline a house, curve around slopes, or weave between mounded planting beds.

Above left, San Diego landscape architect Joseph Yamada fitted a stone gutter at the base of the hillside surrounding Robert Mann's house. Wrapping two sides of the house, the 2-foot-wide bed picks up water from roof downspouts and runoff from the upper slopes, funneling it to a city storm drain at the lower edge of the property. Cobbles placed in a mix of soil and Portland cement give the shallow, 3-inch-deep course a natural-looking, impermeable surface.

In the Northwest, poorly draining clay soil, heavy winter and sring rains, and sloping lots combine with high groundwater levels to make drainage engineering a necessity. Seattle designer David Poot controlled these problems by installing the natural-looking swale shown above.

He created the 12- to 18-inch-deep stream bed by mounding earth on each side; the raised areas allow plant roots to grow above the high water table. To handle the quantity of water the gully collects, he laid 4-inch perforated PVC drainpipe in the bed and covered it with river rock. While the hidden pipe carries storm water quickly to the street, high-level ground water can also seep into the rock channel and get taken away.

Because rains fall fast and hard in the desert, gardens there have to be prepared for sudden summer "gullywashers." The path in Loraine and Don Allen's Phoenix garden (at top on facing page) is designed to handle them. Made of decomposed granite, it runs from the back garden between planting beds to the street. Rather than channel all runoff from the property, its granular surface allows some water to percolate into the soil.

In the Tucson garden at right, granite boulders and stones slow the flow of water so the ground can soak it up. Landscape architect Joe Prchal placed the creek bed in a low spot near a patio and contoured the ground around it, so that water from the hard-surfaced patios and walks is diverted to it. Any surplus flows through an opening at the bottom of the garden wall and into a natural arroyo.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1985
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