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In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to use rainwater to sustain a lush garden.


1. Lay out the rough shape of the garden using a garden hose. For a natural-looking garden, eliminate straight lines and arrange the hose into gentle curves.

2. Mark the outline of the garden onto the ground with line-marking spray paint. Follow the shape of the hose, spraying just a few inches beyond the outline.

3. Move the garden hose out of the way, then dig out the garden to a depth of at least 12 inches using a mini-excavator.

4. Use pointed and square-blade shovels to shape the perimeter of the garden, creating a bowl.

5. Set four to six large boulders into place near the edges of the excavated garden.

6. Dig a shallow trench from the downspout to the garden.

7. Attach a 4-inch-diameter plastic 90 elbow to the bottom end of the downspout.

8. Run a length of 4-inch plastic pipe from the downspout elbow to the garden. Cover the drainpipe trench with topsoil.

9. Dig planting holes and set each plant into its hole.

10. Mix a handful of starter fertilizer into the topsoil and backfill around each plant.

11. Spread a thick layer of gravel over the bare ground between the planting beds.

12. Cover the soil around each plant with 2 inches of bark mulch.

13. Thoroughly water the plants each day until they're established.