What I Did on My Spring Break


Alnus glutinosa monoecious catkin flowers in full bloom waiting for a breeze. The pistillate flowers are the little red bud-like structures and the staminate are the yellow dangly things.


Garden of course!  With temperatures in the 70s all week it was glorious to be outside breathing fresh air and digging around.  Since plants are still dormant at this point it was a great time to move things around.  My spring break project was to expand my rain garden which I started about three years ago and to begin reducing the amount of turf we have to mow and maintain.  Our 1.5 acre property slopes down to Springbrook creek and all the storm water from our house and property drain into this pretty little creek. Storm water from our neighbors and Hwy ML also drain into this creek. I’m trying to do my part to filter the storm water before it gets there.  The small rain garden I already  have effectively stopped a putrid lake of standing water from forming every spring.

What I really need is a rain garden behind my house to capture water before it enters my sump pump which runs constantly in spring.   


Rain garden at base of property with Springbrook creek beyond

We had several large, nasty Box Elders fall over last summer (yeah) which plunged the rain garden into full sun.  This improved my choice of plants greatly! I had planted a couple Alders (Alnus glutinosa) a few years ago which have been entertaining me greatly ever since.  I had also planted Carex ‘Ice Dancer’ which really took off in the moist soil and remained evergreen the entire winter – mild as it was.  The Carex and some  Astilbe ‘Younique’  had gotten lost in the background so I decided to expand the rain garden and pull these shorter plants to the front.  I also dug a Hydrangea ‘Little lamb’ that has been languishing in too dry soil for a few years now.  It does great in spring and always looks like it will be beautiful in late summer but then the dry spell arrives and ‘Little lamb’ droops and wilts and has few flowers.  She will much prefer the moist soil of the rain garden.  Ligularia dentatum and Calimagrostis was also included in the plant shuffle.


Carex 'Ice Dancer', Astilbe 'Younguique, Calimagrostis planted into turf and layered with newspaper and straw.

The method to my madness is not to dig up turf and till beds but instead smother and layer. The plants were simply transplanted directly into the grass.  Sheets of newspaper are layered around the plants and over the turfgrass.   This looks very ugly so straw from my compost pile is used to cover it all up as a mulch.  Its all looking pretty good today especially after the extreme heat we’ve had and now, much needed rain.

Stay tuned for my next project – turning my turfgrass into a meadow



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