Soft Landscaping: Borrowing from Nature’s Defences against Flooding

Landscaping In Home GardenMost people think that landscaping is solely for aesthetics. But most landscape architects also design for flood risk.

Unlike hardscaping, a style that uses construction materials, soft landscaping is a more natural approach to reducing surface runoff and increasing the drainage efficiency of soils. Inspired by natural processes, this landscaping style has more science to it than art.

Tree Planting and Orcharding

Transplanting woodland and fruit-bearing trees in private and public spaces is perhaps the cheapest and most effective measure to reduce flood risks. Unlike potted trees, transplanted trees are capable of absorbing rainwater and keeping the soil intact.

Water-loving trees can thrive in wet areas and even soak up excess water in soils that have poor internal drainage, such as clay and swamp soils. In residential landscaping, designers choose their trees and shrubs carefully to keep drainage speed or capacity at an ideal pace and avoid moisture and mineral loss.

Hedge Gardening

Hedge gardening is another way of planting trees and shrubs, except it follows a more organised approached. It involves careful selection of tree and shrub species, strategic placing and spacing, and routine training and management to maintain its form.

Hedgerows are often trained and clipped to form a barrier of an area or separate a road from a field. Most people see herbaceous borders as garden ornaments, but they play a major role in preventing soil loss and reducing pollution. On top of their cultural and historical value, they also have the potential to regulate water supply and reduce flooding.

Permeable Hardscaping

A common method to mitigate flooding is to divert runoff from a certain area using hard, impenetrable infrastructure. But this technique is not always effective. The trick is to use permeable hardscapes such as fieldstones, gravel stones, and suggests that you choose permeable materials for your next driveway resurfacing project. 

Planting strong turf grasses can also reduce soil loss. Keep your hardscaping and driveway space to a minimum and cover the rest of your yard with turf grass. Compared to mulch, grass holds on to the soil more firmly, which means fewer risks of clogging up drains and sewer lines with fugitive gardening mulch.

Soft landscaping is essentially a style that mimics nature’s wonders to prevent flood and runoff damage, reduce water, air and noise pollution, and provide an escape for relaxation. For a long time, people have relied on man-made attempts to control flooding and runoff. It is time that people bring back nature’s flood defences to their yards.