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.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

New Rain Garden Care Guide

Thank you for reading our care and maintenance tips for your new, current or future rain garden.  A big Thank You if you chose Abundant Design to design and/or install your rain garden!

Rain Garden Care-

After the First Few Rains

-If the rain garden basin fails to drain within a day or two following rains, contact us or your contractor immediately.  There are some tricks to help with infiltration or downspouts may need diverted until plants establish.  A last resort would be to remove a portion of the berm so it does not retain excess water, until plants establish, then rebuild the berm or spillway later.

-If it leaks/overflows anywhere besides the armored spillway, contact us or your contractor immediately.  The low spots need to be fixed to prevent erosion damage.

-Check the plants and mulch to make sure the mulch isn't covering any new plants or clogging your stand pipe/overflow if you have one.  Adjust the mulch as needed.

The First Season(s)

-Water the rain garden every couple days the first week or two, every three to four days for the next few weeks, then as needed if we go without rain or they look droopy.  This is important as the young plants have not yet developed the deep root systems they need to thrive.  After the first season it should only need watering during extended dry spells.

-If you had your downspouts piped to the rain garden, water the trenching scar to help turf recover.

-Controlling the weeds the first year or two will help the plants thrive and fill in.  We recommenced pulling weeds instead of chemical control. Just be careful not to disturb the roots of young desirable plants.  The edges can be invaded by turf grass or creeping lawn weeds.  A good edging material will prevent and slow this invasion.  


Ongoing Care

-If plants die, replace as needed for aesthetics as well as function

-As the rain garden matures, watch for settling or erosion of the berm(s)

-Your plants should dominate the space.  Weeds that appear should be spindly and easy to pull.  'Weed trees' like mulberry, maple and elm, will be the biggest threat once established.  Pull as needed.



Enjoy your new runoff filtering, flood mitigating, pollinator feeding water feature!




Thursday, September 24, 2020

"Return to Eden" - A New Documentary by Marijn Poels

Marijn Poels is an award-winning, independent Dutch filmmaker who has a passion for looking for the truth, however unpopular, to educate and inspire the world. 

photo courtesy of  Marijn Poels Films

His films have stirred controversy for questioning energy policy, understanding toxic public debate and investigating climate change narratives.  His previous films include The Uncertainty Has Settled and PARADOGMA, as well as several TV documentaries.

I was recently invited by Marijn to pre-screen his new feature length documentary 

"Return to Eden" 

where he brings you along his journey and asks the questions, 

To what extent are humans a part of nature?

How will we address a changing climate, the natural world and our food supply?  

What parts do technology and biology play?

With Maged El Said - photo courtesy of  Marijn Poels Films

Of course "Regenerativeagriculture, permaculture and holistic livestock management are playing a huge part in this film" so I was excited.  The cinematography is amazing, locations are diverse and the interviews compelling and thought provoking.

With Alan Savory - photo courtesy of  Marijn Poels Films

I think that's where this film really shines. Poels inspires his viewers to think instead of just arguing stale talking points.

Watch the film embedded here, or at his website

https://www.marijnpoels.com/

where you can also sign up for his email list or donate to his work.


Thank you Marijn for this opportunity and your great film!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Everything You Need To Know About Robotic Auto Mowers | Abundant Design | Lawnmowers Direct

Love a manicured lawn but struggle to find the time to put in the maintenance? Robotic auto mowers could be for you! Read on to find out all about them.

Ever since seeing one at a permaculture homestead installation, I’ve been intrigued by automowers.  

There’s nothing better than a perfectly manicured lawn. But keeping your grass areas in ship-shape takes effort. If you’re strapped for time, the robotic auto mower could be your saving grace.

But what is an auto mower and how does it work? In this blog post, we’ve teamed up with Lawnmowers Direct to bring you everything you need to know. Read on to learn more!


What is a robotic mower?

Robotic mowers, often referred to as auto and robo mowers, are a small and compact lawn mower which can be left to mow your lawn, without requiring you to lift a finger.

These little mowers have been designed to patrol your lawn and keep it trimmed to the perfect length. Unlike traditional petrol mowers, this quiet and clean machine is powered by an environmentally friendly lithium ion battery, making it a great option if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint.

How do robotic mowers work?

Since the first robo mower came to the market more than two decades ago, there’s been a lot of developments to ensure they meet users’ needs. Now, these autonomous machines are so intelligent that they can even return to their docking bay to recharge when the battery starts to get low.

These mowers are smart. All you need to do it the initial set up then they can be left to continually trim your grass to keep it at the optimal length. Using a simple mapping system, laser or radar sensors, auto mowers can stay within a set boundary by the operator to navigate their way around your lawn safely without ever going off path.


Who are robotic mowers designed for?

The capabilities of the robo mower are impressive, but they aren’t miracle workers either. Although they are constantly under development, with some robotic mowers able to cut grass for 24 hours on one charge, they are designed primarily for domestic use.  The acreage we designed used two to cover the mowing.

Whether the robotic mower is for you depends on a number of factors, with the main ones being how much time you have available to spend working in your garden and how much you dislike the chore of cutting your grass!

If you want to spend more time planting and deadheading and less time keeping your grass under control, then the robotic mower could be the solution for you!



Thursday, September 10, 2020

Grow - your Career!

Abundant Design is looking for an experienced landscaper with big, green dreams. Are you an ethical, driven individual ready to strive for the next level and grow your career with Abundant Design?


Abundant Design LLC is a small, but growing, permaculture based landscaping business located in central Iowa.  At Abundant Design, we help people build resiliency through edible landscapes and gardens, establish wildlife habitat and conservation practices.  We help provide experiences with nature and enjoyment of Creation in customers' backyards, properties and communities. 

                     
                    

Similar work as the job I posted earlier this year but with the ability to lead and supervise work done to expectations. Primarily working hands on with me this Fall as we finish out the scheduled work, then lead a crew(s) next year to transform designs into reality. 

Lots of digging and planting of native and edible plants, shrubs and trees; moving compost, rock and mulch; some hardscape installation and builds. 


Tasks may include, 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
  • Must be able to communicate clearly and follow instructions
  • Must be respectful of customers and their property 
  • Must be able to get to and from job sites around the metro 
  • Knowledge of/experience in permaculture, gardening, horticulture, biology/ecology, and local ecosystems 
  • Experience operating tools, power tools and small machinery safely and efficiently
  • Interest in permaculture, conservation, regenerative agriculture and sustainability 
Pay commensurate with experience. 
Email your Resume/CV/Work Experience and references, if interested.

PermacultureVoices.com


I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Rain Gardens in Action p2

Finally we are getting some drought relief this week!

Back in May I shared one of the rain gardens we started last year and finished early this spring.  So early in fact that snow fell on our newly installed plants!

Read more here-

With customer photos, here are those new rain gardens and the decorative hillside drainage in action!



I really like how the overflow looks during & right after major rain events.  Once the basins above are full, these emergency overflows go into action. (during top 10% of historic rainfalls)  


These overflows go into a final pool where a drain ties it into the rest of the backyard drainage to move excess water to the front of the home where it drains harmlessly across the yard.

Now that the drainage and water issues are taken care of, we are working on some future plans to make the yard maintenance easier and really tie the space together.

Watch for those photos!


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.


Before

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

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!