Thinking About Water

The heat of August always makes me think of water in the garden. We’ve had an unusually long stretch of wet conditions this year, but according to the state climatologist, July has brought an end to the past seven months of above average rainfall. Yet our preliminary average temperature for the state is almost 2⁰ F above the long-term average.

You may not have noticed this. It appears large parts of Lake and Kendall, and smaller sections of Kane and DuPage counties still experienced from 10% to 100 % above normal rain in July.

So what does this mean? Do we no longer need to worry?

Continue to believe that water is cheap?

I don’t think so. So far this month (through August 18th) our collar county region has received 50-75% of the mean precipitation that fell for the period of the past 40 years (1981-2010) . We don’t know what next year and beyond will bring except that weather patterns are changing and more severe fluctuations are likely.

Continuing to expand the use of native plants in our home, commercial and institutional landscapes will create more resilient gardens that better ensure reduced watering needs and improved recharge of local aquifers. Reduce your need for watering using potable water; set up a system of connected rain barrels. Cut down on the amount of lawn by adding a small rain garden to capture roof runoff and sump pump discharge and fill it with native plants that support the needs of more pollinators.

Here are some resources:

Suggested plant list for rain gardens

Chicago Botanic Garden: Rain Gardens

IL DNR Rain Garden Requirements and Plant Lists

Rain Barrel Installation Guide and video 

Creating a Rain Garden