It may sound silly to talk about rain gardens during the current drought, but now's the time when we most need them. The term "rain gardening" was coined to refer to gardening techniques geared toward collecting and storing rainwater to reduce runoff, both to replenish the water table and to lessen stormwater pollution problems.
Rain gardening can be as simple as placing a rain barrel under a downspout to collect water for gardens. It can expand to include reworking the landscape to direct rainwater to specific low-lying areas that will collect, filter, and store rainwater.
Rain gardens are generally planted with vegetation that can withstand occasional periods of saturation; you might be surprised at the plant options, which include many familiar perennials, trees, and shrubs. For a list of appropriate plants and more information on rain gardening in general, visit RainGardens.org.
Clever Gardening Technique
Water Trees and Shrubs with Soaker Hoses
The long-range weather forecast calls for drier than normal conditions this fall and winter, so it's especially important to water plants deeply and thoroughly. Trees and shrubs -- especially evergreens, which continue to use water all winter -- should receive a slow, deep watering once a week, if not from Mother Nature then from you. Wrap a soaker hose around and between trees and shrubs and allow water to soak in for an hour or two.