Once, while watching a home improvement television show, I heard a contractor remark that he was ‘not creating drainage, but developing water management.’ I like that. It sounds like a challenging job, similar to Cat Rancher or City Government Intermediary. I probably could have solved my drainage issues more quickly (maybe even more easily) by sending all my runoff into underground pipes. But that’s no fun, and would still leave me the question of what to do above ground to make it pretty.
The completed streambed directs all of the outflow from the rear downspout away from the patio and foundation now, and in a hard rain like we seem to have every few minutes or so, it runs like a little river among the gravel and stones and over my small waterfall. When it drops into the gravel of the “Zen Garden” it can migrate through the pebbles; changing the surface area of the runoff slows it down and allows it to steep into the soil beneath the pea gravel and/or gradually filter out into the larger landscape. This will minimize erosion and standing water, of which I already have plenty.
Japanese gardens have long been a favorite, but I generally use the design principles as inspiration and a point of departure. I have never made anything so stylized as the karesansui. There is a wave of smooth stones breaking on a mossy shore; the turtle island has paddle shaped stones for flippers and a tail, but is planted with native Western Sword Fern, Vine maple, and pads of moss gleaned from my forest floor. The Dirtle has three stones upon his back and rather than Mt. Fuji, the Buddha, or things of that nature, perhaps they represent Mt. Si, Tiger Mountain, and Squak Mountain. Or maybe they are just three pleasingly shaped stones in a scalene triangle. I’m not Japanese and I know it.
The Dirtle paddles in 1,800 pounds of pea gravel, and thankfully this construction has a utility, because I obviously did not imitate ‘nature.’ Not that the neighbors seem to mind, as there are fresh deer tracks in it each day, and I awoke Sunday morning to find a Mallard drake ‘swimming’ upon my gravel sea.