Gardening with the Environment

Garden's Grace Rain Garden

Whether you live in a new or older home, dealing with rainfall, erosion, drought and pests are common challenges in the landscape. Garden’s Grace is dedicated to gardening methods that work with nature.

Each of these practices can be used alone or in combination with others to solve a host of conditions that can challenge attractive and successful gardens. Garden’s Grace staff has been certified by the Iowa Storm Water Education Program in rain garden design and installation, soil restoration and native plantings.

In 2014, Garden’s Grace began working with the Easter Lake Watershed Project to help homeowners with the cost of rain gardens and soil restoration. We also work with homeowners throughout the Des Moines area to evaluate and design solutions for undesirable drainage, waterflow and erosion issues.

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management or IPM is a term that describes a suite of practices designed to evaluate the health of plants, monitor insects and diseases and use common sense to create beautiful gardens with a minimized use of external fertilizers or pesticides.

Garden’s Grace’s trained professionals are skilled in selecting the best plants for our clients’ landscape conditions, using maintenance methods that enhance plant health and identify pests at an early stage to ensure addressing problems when appropriate. While we do use fertilizers and pesticides, we try to use them only as needed and in forms that are most environmentally friendly.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are simply gardens that are planted as shallow depressions usually placed near downspouts, sump outlets or areas affected by runoff. A well designed rain garden becomes an attractive part of the landscape and functions as a temporary water retention area that allows water to percolate into the soil rather than running off into storm sewers and increasing the cost of water treatment.

Native plants such as coneflowers, grasses, Siberian iris and other water tolerant plants are used in water gardens and help create channels for water to soak into the soil. In fact, as plants mature, they actually become more effective at diverting runoff into subsoil rather than overland runoff. The resulting benefits to the environment and to reducing soil erosion have been proven. In addition, as water passes through the soil profile, it is naturally purified, reducing the need for municipal treatment.

Landscaping with Native Plants

The use of native plants can be use as stand-alone or in combination with other common landscape perennials, shrubs and trees. Native plants tend to be less susceptible to diseases and pests and are more tolerant of variable weather conditions due to their deep root systems. They are improve the diversity of insects, birds and mammals in the environment, attracting and providing food for butterflies, caterpillars and birds.

Native plants may be used as container grown plants or as seeded mixes used in large areas to reduce the amount of maintenance required as compared with, for example, grass lawn areas. They normally require little or no fertilization, little additional watering once established and don’t require constant trimming or mowing.

Soil Restoration

A frequent client concern is poor turf growth in their landscapes. Often layers of topsoil have been removed from newly constructed landscapes and a minimal amount of soil applied over clay or other compacted soil types.

Soil restoration is a relatively inexpensive method for improving soil composition and creating an much better root zone for turf. Our trained staff core aerate the turf areas and apply one to two inches of compost. Overseeding can be added if desired. The compost fills the aeration holes and becomes mixed with the existing soil through freezing and thawing, greatly improving organic matter and loosening the soil in the root zone. Soil restoration has the additional benefit of increasing the infiltration of rain into the soil, reducing the need for supplemental irrigation.


Bioswales are commonly used when larger areas of runoff need to be addressed. The bioswales ook and function similar to enhanced rain gardens but have a slope to them, absorbing runoff from small rains but serving as channels to downslope areas for handling larger rainfalls.

Parking lots of commercial or developed areas are common targets for use of bioswales.

Bio-retention cells

Bio-retention cells capture and infiltrate storm water runoff from surfaces like parking lots and driveways to reduce water pollution and stabilize stream flows. Bio-retention cells are engineered and constructed to ensure adequate drainage of the captured runoff.

Bioretention cells use plants that can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions. Native plants are encouraged because they are deep-rooted and help improve soil quality and good percolation.

An outlet is necessary to ensure proper drainage. The sub-drain often drains into the storm sewer or can discharge downhill.

Contact us for further information about how gardens can improve the environment in your landscape!