Book Review: Creating Rain Gardens

Creating Rain Gardens: Capturing The Rain For Your Own Water-Efficient Garden, by Cleo Woefle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher

It appears that quite a few books seek to answer the question of how one goes about making rain gardens, or where one goes about making rain gardens by taking advantage of terrain in swales, but there are definitely aspects of this book that make someone wonder why it is that someone is going to create a water garden. What is the gain that people have in creating a water-efficient garden. The aim of rain gardens is pretty straightforward, and that is taking the rain that would normally lead to massive runoff and allow it to slowly percolate into the groundwater. This is obviously better for a variety of reasons, namely that it helps reduce the stress of run-off water and on the ground, and it also helps aquifers by providing the filtering of graywater through plants to slow its velocity and also clean it a little. Yet it does not appear to be an easy thing to make a good rain garden, since the goal is to slow down the rain and clean it through moving it through plants into the groundwater, but not to let the water stay in a given area, and that is a tricky balance.

This book is a bit less than 200 pages long and it is divided into a variety of chapters and other material. The book begins with acknowledgements and an introduction that discusses the garden in the river and the pools in the garden as a means of connecting plants and water. After that the book discusses the choose-your-own-adventure nature of rain gardens (1). This is followed by a discussion of how to design one’s rain garden (2). This is then quite naturally followed by a chapter on building one’s rain garden (3) and then planting it (4). After that there is a discussion of how one maintain one’s rain garden (5). After that the book goes into some detail on how one uses a rain garden as part of a larger integrated landscape design (6), and then an epilogue on collaborating on common waters that takes a bit more political of a discussion. The book then ends with a look at ecological regions, resources, photography credits, and an index.

This book is certainly designed for a certain type of reader with a somewhat short attention span and a certain susceptibility to hype. I must admit that I found the graphic design of the book a bit off-putting. This book was clearly not designed with me in mind as a reader, especially because it included so many distracting sidebars and not as much sustained writing as I would have preferred, to say nothing for the way that pages look. When it comes to the content, there is more to enjoy here as the authors really do know a good deal about what they are talking about. One of the things I found interesting about this book was the focus that the authors had about capturing the rain, something which makes sense when one is making a rain garden, but something that one cannot assume one’s readers is going to realize. If one wants a good rain garden, it is of vital importance that one do a good job at connecting the sources of the rain to the garden that one wants to make, and it is similarly important to connect it to groundwater so that one does not make a permanent wetlands. It would at least seem that this sort of thing was obvious.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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