Category Archives: landscape

rain garden

2014 07 01 the rain garden was planted today. well beneath the surface , the rain garden has rocks, which allow for space to hold water.

this is handy for the chesapeake bay because the water from the roof of the house is directed to the rain garden reducing the runoff headed to streams and ultimately the bay. if the rain garden overflows, the excess water is directed to a 2,000 gallon cistern. if that overflows the water will go to a to be installed second rain garden.

my landscape architect, lauren wheeler, selected some nifty native plants for the rain garden. these include shrubs:

summer sweet
virginia sweet spire
winterberry holly

and perennials:

swamp milkweed
new england aster
gateway joe pye weed
northern blue flag
husker’s red beardtongue
goldstrum black-eyed susan
fireworks goldenrod

woohoo. i’ve never had a landscaper plan a garden before. just the names seem so exotic. as usual my poor picture taking skills are not up to the task, but have a look at a part of the freshly planted garden anyway.

rain garden

rain garden

water efficiency

2013 12 17: mary sper and lauren wheeler of natural resources design, inc., 202-489-6214, have put together a very water efficient landscape for the house. mary predicts the outdoor water usage for the site to be 47,487 gallons per month.  leed baselines the outdoor usage at 179,574 gallons per month; i suppose as a sort of norm. quite a reduction!

the indoor usage is also very low. the toilets use only 0.8 gallons per flush, and each bathroom is equipped with waterless urinals, low flow shower heads and low flow faucets. the kitchen is equipped with a low flow faucet and a very efficient dishwasher and the laundry room uses a very efficient washer.

at the end of it all, we are predicting, using leed methodology that the house will save 134,907 gallons per month from the base-line. leed says this is exemplary performance. of course, this will have to be verified by the leed rater but i think we’re looking very good in this department.

grading by wheelbarrow

2013 08 12: we’re protecting the cherry tree, described in the first post, by manually grading the soil near the garage. if the grading were done by machine, soil would be compacted over the cherry tree roots. the tree’s roots under the compaction would not have access to adequate air and water. if there is a large compacted area over the tree’s roots, it could kill the tree.

this is hard, hard, work.

grading with a wheelbarrow

grading with a wheelbarrow

not prime farmland

web soil survey detailsleed discourages development of prime farmland, parkland, or land that lies within a floodplain or that is identified as a habitat for endangered species, or that is within 50 feet of wetlands or within 100 feet of a lake or stream. well, that’s my over simplified summary of what they say.

i’m in the process of documenting that the lot i’m building on meets these criteria. the first one i checked is prime farmland. it turns out that there is a department of agriculture website,, that informs whether land is prime farmland. i got this pretty map from them. the orange target is where the lot is located. it’s in a soil type GhB, which is designated as glenelg urban land complex. according to the website, this is not prime farmland. interestingly, the nearby GgB, in green, is glenelg loam and it is prime farmland.

the palindrome glenelg is the name of a community in howard county.


seeding to prevent erosion


disturbed earth under new grass

disturbed earth under new grass

one of the first disturbances to the property was the digging of three holes for perc tests. this satisfied howard county that there was sufficient permeable soil for three septic fields should the existing field play out. this left unprotected soil on the surface.

to keep the soil in place, i used recommendations from my landscapers and the epa’s developing your stormwater pollution prevention guide. i seeded the areas with annual rye grass.