Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Rain Garden in Action

This rain garden was finished a couple weeks ago in Des Moines.
Rain garden ready for runoff

Within a few days we had a good heavy rain and the customer sent me these photo updates.  At 5am the customer was watching water go over the emergency spillway.  This happens when it's rains more than it would 90 percent of the time.  The spillways are installed to maintain the integrity of the construction and designed to prevent point erosion.

Here is the garden at 9am holding a good amount of storm water from rushing into the nearby lake where it would increase the storm surge, along with erosion/sediment and other potential pollutants.
9am  quite a bit of water

By Noon some water had infiltrated but still a lot in there.  Plants are selected for their ability to thrive in both wet and dry conditions.
Noon   water line is dropping

The mulch is still wet at 4pm.  There are probably a few puddles underneath as well.
4pm    only a few puddles and wet mulch

By the next morning the water had infiltrated into the soil and ground water. Now it can slowly make its way to Easter Lake through the water table.
Following morning

This site had passed the infiltration test but still had a fair amount of clay in the soil, so I was happy to see it work right out of the gate.

The Easter Lake Watershed Project even shared the great pictures and this story on Facebook
"10 days ago this rain garden was installed within the Easter Lake Watershed. The 160 SF rain garden temporarily ponds stormwater runoff from a 1405 SF rooftop area. By capturing and helping the water naturally soak into the ground, we reduce runoff and drainage issues in the yard and help to improve water quality downstream in Easter Lake! Our estimates show that this garden can help reduce about 27,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year! We can’t wait to see this pollinator friendly garden grow!"
If you would like more information about rain gardens and other Stormwater Best Management Practices visit RainCampaign.org or contact us today for a consultation.


Joe finishing up the mulch


Friday, June 19, 2020

#RainCampaign is LIVE

Earlier this year a new collaborative initiative was formed across the Des Moines metro area with the goal of "Enabling People to Protect Water"

"The rain campaign is a localized effort across the Des Moines Metro to enable you to be a part of the solution towards better managing stormwater runoff to improve local water quality through the utilization of municipal cost-share programs." https://raincampaign.org

This rain garden on the home page looks familiar! 
It's one we installed in the Easter Lake Watershed.

Many cities are offering incentives for stormwater best management practices.  You can learn much more at RainCampaign.org or on their Facebook page.

The City of Johnston shared this video where one of our first rain gardens 
shows up in the background fairly often.

Local Channel 5 also highlights the #RainCampaign in Polk County in their video

I encourage you to check it out, and see how you can take steps to ensure clean water for Iowa!

Jeff explains the design & function of this rain garden near Easter Lake last year
to the Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District's intern during a site visit.

This home has a smaller rain garden up front as well as this one in the backyard.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Wet Spot Fix

With the amount of rain gardens done in the area, your name gets passed along as someone who deals with water problems, often erosion and drainage.

The problem-
Many neighborhoods are designed to remove water from yards as fast as they can.  Unfortunately that passes the buck, and the storm surge, downstream.  This storm surge carries sediment and other pollution, contributes to flooding both regionally and localized.  That was the case in this backyard in Ankeny.

This area of the yard was almost always wet, and the lawn could not be maintained.  The grass was scraggly, bare and being overrun by water loving weeds. 

The Plan-
Even though the city of Ankeny does Stormwater BMP Cost Share, having a dozen or so compacted yards draining through this area, a rain garden wasn't an option.  That's just too much runoff for a single property to manage that way.  So instead of trying to slow and sink that much water, we designed a functional & decorative dry stream bed including native plants, grasses and trees. The deep-rooted natives can act as a filter and help infiltrate rainwater into the ground during smaller rain events.

The Install-
Some light regrading was required to reestablish the slope running to the storm sewer inlet.  The wet spot even tried to eat my Dingo!  A combination of rock sizes were used to give the waterway a more natural look.  A couple bigger boulders double as benches to watch the butterflies, and some others to cross the "stream."  A native river birch won't mind the wet soil and provide dappled shade for the yard.

The Results-
The runoff and even floodwaters should pass through better and without damage now.  The trouble spot in the lawn has become a decorative feature, that also provides habitat for native pollinators and a place to enjoy them.  Two other native trees, swamp white oaks, were planted in the yard, along with a unique curly willow.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, 

the second best time is now"

Not our typical project but we did put an Abundant Design twist on this drainage project.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Help Wanted - Seasonal Landscape Crew

I'm putting together a crew for the season.  Want to join us?

Spreading chips on an orchard install
Spreading chips on an orchard install
Contour swale installation

Abundant Design is looking for seasonal Part-time to Full-Time laborers where we help people build resiliency through gardens and edible landscapes, establish wildlife habitat and conservation practices, and provide enjoyment of Creation in their own backyards, properties and communities.

Lots of digging and planting of native and edible plants, shrubs and trees; moving compost, rock and mulch; some limited hardscape and builds.
Tasks may included, but not limited to - shoveling rock, moving boulders, trenching by hand or with a machine, operating a laser level for grading, light grading with mini-skidsteer, hauling material, plantings ranging in size from large balled and burlapped (B&B) trees to delicate transplants

Must be physically able to work hard outside in various conditions, communicate clearly and follow instructions, be respectful of customers and their property. Must also be able to get to and from job sites around the metro.
Knowledge of or experience in gardening, landscaping, horticulture, biology/ecology, and local ecosystems a plus.
Experience operating small machinery a plus. 

Great for students in conservation, agriculture and sustainability fields, or anyone interested in the same.

Pay ~$10-15/hr, depending on experience.

Email us your Resume/CV/Work experience and references, if interested.

Steel planter boxes assembly

Rain Garden grading

Stone edging around a Mandala Garden

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Hillside Backyard - Rain Gardens & Dry Stream

South of Grand - Rain Gardens, Dry stream,
Drainage and Boulder Terraces
The latest project we finished began last year and picked up again first thing this spring so that it would look great for summer.  The project goal was to fix the drainage issues, beautify the space and do it in an environmentally friendly way.  We had a beautiful wooded hillside to start...

...but there were some poor drainage issues and existing landscape to deal with before the homeowners could really enjoy their patio and backyard.


We looked at the slope and how to slow the flow, preventing erosion and managing the runoff before it got to the home.  We also leveraged the city stormwater funding for cost share to reduce stormwater coming from the property.

The old paver patio, deer damaged arborvitae screen and edging all came out.  The old drain intake which was actually flowing backward was removed.  The old clogged lines were replaced with PVC attached to downspouts and a new french style drain was put in to catch whatever runoff the planned rain garden swales miss above.

Two rain gardens were constructed to capture and infiltrate rainwater.  The rain gardens were designed with small drainage swales to move water across the slope.  These were reseeded to blend back into the yard.   Any overflow will be directed into the dry stream bed we constructed through the terraced shady planting, along the patio and into a small pool where the new intake drain is located.

Swale to move hillside runoff to rain garden
with taller sun loving native flowers and prairie grasses

Second swale to part shade rain garden planted with natives,
 some edible, and overflow into the dry stream

Hillside terraces, dry stream bed and woodland planting

Drain pool with decorative boulders, driftwood and
a flagstone bridge across the stream

Plus, a small raised bed Vegetable Garden!

I'm really excited to see this later in the season when the plantings grow and fill in more!