Roy Gilbert

The Do-It-Yourself Rain Garden

When it rains all weekend and you’re stuck at home, you have time to notice a lot of things. Like that one spot where water runs off the roof a bit too fast, some of it disobediently making its way into the basement. Or maybe you watched as rainwater rushed down the driveway, straight into a storm drain, or into a depression in the lawn where it always seems to pool after a downpour.

A scaled-down version of the storm-water management tactics used in municipal planning can help solve those problems, slowing water flow and increasing infiltration. And if the solution is landscape-focused and involves planting native species, it will also support pollinators and other beneficial insects, promoting overall diversity.

Think of it as a do-it-yourself rain garden to the rescue — and then some. At her home near Wilmington, Del., Carrie Wiles is making a plan to redirect the water that rushes off the roof over her kitchen and dining room, entering the cellar, during the new-normal downpours that follow extended dry spells. Ms. Wiles, a horticulturist and the marketing manager at North Creek Nurseries , in Landenberg, Pa., is no stranger to the idea of using plants to solve environmental issues.

North Creek, whose motto is “where horticulture meets ecology,” is a wholesale producer of what are called plugs or liners, many of them species native to the Eastern United States. These baby plants are sold not just to garden centers but to landscapers, park systems, universities and municipalities. Plants […]