Friday, 3 September 2010

Dealing with Polish Flooding

With two extremely wet years in Poland, flooding has been a continuous news item. Whilst this is an appalling experience to go through, there are times when I can't help feel that some people have just ignored the obvious - building a house in a small hollow in a garden that turns out to act like a pond, for instance. However, what seems like good planning can go wrong. What do you do then?

I was considered silly when we first looked at our house in 2008. It was a normal, hot and dry summer, but I checked that the land sloped away from the house before taking any decision. There were two big thunderstorms after we had put down our deposit, which confirmed that the water ran away from us, down to houses near the road.

Through to May, 2009 we occupied the house and work in the garden proceeded. This is a view at the time.

Then the rain started in June. Despite all my forethought, the garden was flooding.

The problem was simply that when the fences were put in and the ground levelled, we were in a dip. The effect of the changed ground slope and its impact on water flow was not an issue I considered. I had already dealt with it and taken it off my mental checklist.

What to do? We don't want a regularly flooded garden. On the other hand, why automatically try and get rid of water when most summers we would want it. Indeed, since the house itself never seemed threatened, why be scared of water. So I decided to make a feature of the water - to create a layout which, when wet, would give us a water garden, but yet could cope with dry weather as well. I started to dig in spring this year.

In the photo below, there is a pond in the bottom right, designed as a water feature whatever the weather. The rest of the dug area is designed to fill with water during heavy rains. There is some further extension planned and we have a pump that can get of excess water. My theory that this will normally only be used a few times a year seems a bit of a joke at the moment.

2010 has also been extremely wet and this night picture shows the lawn flooded with water when the pump stopped working one night.

We recently got some plants for the 'stream' adding to the ones we had in the pond and you can now start to see what the water garden will look like when wet (after 36 hours of incessant rain and quite a bit of pumping).
From 2010 09

Of course, having been a thought a bit crazy about worrying about flooding back in 2009, I am now thought to be a bit crazy about expecting Polish summers to be normally dry: my city ignorance, meteorologists and global warming being quoted at me. I wonder...

That's one part of waterlogging in the garden on the way to being sorted ...

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