My Rain Garden: How I Got Started

I decided to blog on my rain garden as many people are interested in creating them. Also, my garden was recently featured in Pacific NW Magazine in an article written by Valerie Easton. In 2005, I moved to a home in Lake Forest Park, WA, that had a typical 1950’s landscape that had not been updated in over 50 years. The site did not drain away from the foundations. My first step was to remove the water from the foundations with temporary black tubing. In 2006, I found myself removing the lawn and creating a rain garden.

2005:  The garden "as is"
2005: The garden “as is”

When I first started improving the landscaping, I had only intended to enlarge the planting beds and remove some of the lawn. For the most part, the lawn was an unattractive mix of grass and weeds with large uneven bald spots.

Spring 2006:  Expanding the garden beds
Spring 2006: Expanding the garden beds

A few months later, when my gardeners offered to remove the lawn and replace it with new sod, at first I said “yes.” Then, after a sleepless night, I asked them to remove the lawn instead.

Summer 2006:  Beginning the rain garden
Summer 2006: Beginning the rain garden

This is how my rain garden started. It is a series of trenches lined with landscape cloth, drainage rock and perforated plastic piping that conveys the water from the roof throughout the garden beds.

Summer 2006:  Shaping the earth
Summer 2006: Shaping the earth

The next phase included reshaping the earth, adding amended soil and topsoil to reconstruct the garden beds while creating an overall garden design. I worked in both CAD and directly on the site, laying out the pattern lines.

Summer 2006:  Constructing the garden
Summer 2006: Constructing the garden

After three months of steady work the garden began to emerge as a place. I designed it as a meditation garden with meandering paths and small niches for relaxation and restoration, a foil for the busy arterial beyond the fence.

Summer 2006:  Finishing the garden
Summer 2006: Finishing the garden

I experimented with a variety of native plants and hardy perennials. Within a few years, with Seattle’s unpredictable snowstorms and quick overnight freezes all the plants that were not hardy were eliminated and I did not replant them. I replanted with hardier choices, often with natives.

2008:  The Lake Forest Park Secret Garden Tour
2008: The Lake Forest Park Secret Garden Tour

In 2008, my garden was included in the Lake Forest Park Annual Secret Garden Tour. This is a community event that raises funds for local projects. It is a well-attended garden tour and it offers views into a variety of Northwest gardens.

July 2012:  Garden overview with banana trees
July 2012: Garden overview with banana trees

Four years later, in 2012, Valerie Easton selected my garden for a feature story in Pacific NW Magazine, running on April 21, 2013. I am writing this blog as a response to all of the interest that this article has generated about my garden. Below are my favorite images of the garden from summer 2012, when the garden was photographed for Valerie’s article.

July 2012:  Overview with swale
July 2012: Overview with swale

The swale located on the left side of the garden adds a passive water element that requires minimal maintenance. To date, the water is dispersed in the garden beds before arriving at the swale. Glass floats and gazing balls imply water and create an attractive feature.

July 2012:  Patterns and bands with solar lights and wind ornaments
July 2012: Patterns and bands with solar lights and wind ornaments

Bands of colors and textures create a rich pattern statement. Solar lights offer nighttime illumination and an element of magic to the garden.

July 2012:  Paths and details, more solar lights
July 2012: Paths and details, more solar lights

Paths meander around the garden providing a meditative walking experience.

July 2012:  Colors and textures
July 2012: Colors and textures

Verdant greens create a restorative environment and a painterly tapestry.

July 2012:  Colors and textures
July 2012: Colors and textures

One of my favorite touches is the mix of northern lights tufted hair grass with red begonias (right).

July 2012:  Colors and textures and tables
July 2012: Colors and textures and tables

For me, the garden rebounds with life and inspiration. This is one of my favorite places to sit and view the garden.

Team Credits:

Vicki Scuri SiteWorks

Carlos & Ruben Quality Landscape Services

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