Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Finishing" Our Catchment Basin: Observing and Re-shaping

Yay! Our neighbors finally get a glimpse of what that "River Run Network" sign refers to. We just had our first downpour right after Dan "finished" our catchment basin!

As anyone who has taken Watershed Management Group's Water Harvesting rebate class can tell you, the first thing you do when you're gonna start an earthworks project is to observe where the rainwater naturally goes in your yard and where it puddles.... 

You can see from the photo (below), that rainwater comes down from the roof and puddles by our front door patio.

Notice: the scorched shrub in the middle. Since we are transitioning to a native food forest, we are replacing non-native shrugs with native ones. Our policy is if the shrubs make it through the hot summer without extra water, they can stay. This one did not.  You can see the durable Texas Sage to the right is doing well (partially due to getting water from the roof.) 

See how the water from roof has dissolved the patio. A reminder that we need to put in some gutters to redirect that rainwater where it can be used. 

Previously... Dan had removed A LOT of gravel and plastic so the water could penetrate the ground. 

He noticed that there was a subtle slope in the yard that was directing the rainwater towards the foundation of our house.  Not good!  But look how green the Cat's Claw  and bougainvillea are! 

He had to use a pick to get through the hard clay. 

Checking out the shallow basin. 

Dan got to use some of the red gravel he dug out of the backyard to make a decorative trail...

After putting in a path of red gravel, Dan saw that the basin still needed more shaping....

Hey, it's a process! A process of observing and adjusting to make the best use of the rainwater.

Dan used some of the gravel he had previously dug up to build a mound protecting our foundation with a gravel trail. 

While digging the basin by the little sage (and a dead native plant), we probably overdid it a bit...

Looks like we need a thirsty shrub in that basin! 

NOTE: You should never plant a native tree (like paloverde or mesquite) on the bottom of a basin that holds that much water. They could get root rot and fall over. 

So when shaping your yard to use rainwater, it's good to keep observing during the monsoon rains. (One of our favorite things to do anyway!)  

You can see from this video taken on Sunday, July 14th, that a lot of water is coming down from the roof over our carport. That water should be rushing out of the downspout. So we either need to clear out the gutter or install a bigger one.  Another project! 

A row of  edible jujube would go great where Dan removed the non-native oleanders! Mo' projects! Mo' projects! 

Our "finished" basin...

Well... until the next downpour informs us. 


  1. Where do I get a Dan? Looks great :-)

    1. Watershed Management Group has free rainwater harvesting rebate classes where you can learn all about rainwater harvesting. They can give you a list of contractors too.