A rarely used marshy corner of the property had become little more than an afterthought—a no-man’s land invisible to the condo residents. It was shaded and perpetually damp and accessed mostly by maintenance men working on building mechanics. But, as in any outdoor space, we saw potential. We imagined pleasant patio cookouts and outdoor dining in its future, and so we set to work.
A Shady Rain Garden
- The Site
A soggy spot behind a condo heavily shaded by surrounding woodland.
- The Task
Create a garden full of bright color to enjoy while sitting on the deck or grilling out.
Few people enjoy lounging in swamplands, so first we needed to dry the site out. With so much moisture draining into the soil and no direct sunlight to regulate it, we began by creating a French drain to redirect the surface and groundwater away from our garden site and into a swale in the nearby lawn. To bring some cheer to this typically dark corner, we picked bright, seasonal plants based on shade and water tolerance. Indiana natives cardinal flower, red- and yellow-twig dogwood, and rose mallow were chosen to thrive in this particular landscape. To encourage interaction while protecting the plantings, we laid a stone path to allow homeowners and the condo association’s technicians access to mechanicals without disrupting anything. Finally, bright ceramic pots bursting with shade-loving annuals were dotted throughout the space to lend pops of color that could be swapped out seasonally and provide brilliant contrast.
The space has become a favorite destination for neighbors to gather and unwind at the end of the day and a festive space for weekend barbecues. We set out to help our clients reclaim some space and improve their quality of life. Along the way, we transformed an eyesore into a destination.