drainage swale
Photo: Karen Bussolini

River of Rocks

You can turn drainage solutions into features that enhance your landscape—and protect natural waterways. Ditches can be landscaped as swales that look like creek beds or small meadows. Gutter water can flow into rain gardens that provide a habitat for butterflies and birds. And driveways, patios, and walkways can be constructed of pervious paving that never puddles because water seeps through. Since these measures allow storm water to sink into the soil gradually, they help reduce flooding. Plus, they allow pollution, including oily residue from cars, to filter out naturally, so it doesn’t wind up in lakes or streams. “You can cure your wet-basement problem and do something for the environment at the same time,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.

Shown: This drainage swale designed by Jan Johnsen resembles a dry streambed. A buried perforated pipe underneath it sends excess water to a dry well.
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