This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

August 19, 2014

Controlling rainwater in your yard in the desert

Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, we get summer thunderstorms, which can be quite severe. They don't last very long, but the rain comes down very hard. And while rain is welcomed in the garden, flooding isn't.

If you have a typical suburban house, like I do, you are part of the flood control of the valley. And that means that your yard should hold a certain amount of water. Your property was designed that way, by law. Here at The Tropical Paradise, like most homeowners, I have changed around a lot of things in the yard. But I have made sure that the original way that the water is held, and flows, has remained the same.

This view of the backyard shows how the water stands just after a heavy rain. It flows, of course, away from the patio, and towards the the southern edge of the yard. There the water sits until it's high enough to start its journey along the side yard. From there it goes into another holding area in my courtyard. When the level of the water gets high enough, it flows out into the street, and into the local drainage basin, which is just southwest of me, along a major street. If that were to overflow, it would flow along storm sewers all of the way to the Salt River, the Gila River, and on to the Gulf of California.

I grew up in Minneapolis, where it rains (and snows) a lot, and I have never kicked the idea of worrying about rain. Water can be a pretty nasty thing when it goes where it shouldn't! And I know that there are a lot of people in the valley who just consider having their house get flooded to be part of the risk of living here. Not true.

The one thing that you can count on with water is that it will flow downhill. You don't need to be an engineer to know that. So if your yard has been modified in such a way that the flood waters come a'rising to your door, you need to make it right. Yes, it should flood a bit, but that water should go where you want it to.
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