Getting From A to Z: How Water Moves Around Your Home and Garden
How does water move around your home and garden landscape? When you’re looking outside at your garden, you might think that it needs watering, but you’re probably not thinking about the overall water traffic flow. Here’s how water moves from place to place in your garden and what you can do to change your garden landscape.
The Water Rush Hour
It’s raining, and the water is moving quickly into and onto your garden. What happens during that rainy time will impact how your garden grows. Water hits your roof and runs down into your gutters. In an ideal situation, it goes into those gutters and flows into the downspouts. If it enters your garden, it does so away from your home’s foundation. Water is also falling on your garden, accumulating in pools, and running down slopes. It’s moving on top of the soil and inside the soil as well. In the soil, water moves due to gravity, but it also moves due to adhesion. According to Walter Gardner in How Water Moves in the Soil, adhesion and cohesion “…makes water move on particle surfaces and through the finer pores” in the soil.
Instead of moving constantly, water also goes to storage. How does this work? According to Nature, “Water content increases when inputs including precipitation or irrigation exceed outputs.” When it rains a lot or you water a lot, you can increase the water in your soil, while water percolates far into the soil, it runs off the surface, moves below the surface and away from your garden, or either evaporates or gets used by plants.
Gutters can play an important role in channeling rainwater that falls on your house. Gutters that are properly installed and in good repair will guide the water to the downspouts and away from the foundation of your home. Download our free gutter guide to learn more about gutters.
Soil storage also depends on the type of soil you have in your garden. Some soils such as clay soils are good at holding water, but it is not always available to plants. Other soils such as sandy soils allow water to move through them quickly, but this water is not available to plants either, since it moves away so quickly. A complex soil that’s rich in organic material with a soil structure that has not been disturbed a lot by tilling or compaction will allow plants to access water easily.
Where Do You Need Water?
Are there places where water gets stuck? Can you move water to new areas of your garden where it’s really needed? As you plan your garden, plan to be intentional about the water flow in your garden. You can do many things to impact your soil water storage and the movement of water:
- Increase the organic material in your garden with compost and mulch, allowing water to move into the soil and stay there for use by plants.
- Manage your drainage system with a gutter cover so that water moves from your roof into your drainage system rather than onto the ground near your foundation.
- Avoid soil compaction and puddles by adding pathways where you need them rather than stepping on the soil.
- Change the way your landscaping moves water. Make sure that your soil moves water away from the house using gravity. If you find that water is pooling in a specific area, then either use that water for a wetland garden, change the slope, or add drainage.
- Install drainage and water management tools such as swales that capture water on a slope and allow it to sink into the soil. If you need to add drains, use tools such as French drains to channel water away from the area that is inundated with water.
At Harry Helmet, we want to work with you to create a home and garden that is perfectly functional for your family. Talk with us today about our gutter cover, awning, and roofing options and schedule a free estimate.