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Designing Your Garden to Handle Extreme Climates


Do you want to control the weather with deliberate design choices? Landscape designer Colin Cleland explains the main considerations for creating a resilient garden.

1. Don’t Call It a Rain Garden

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It doesn’t matter where you live; any opportunity to capture water in your landscape is important for the ecosystem. Cleland points out that “a monsoon garden is really a broader response to regional needs, whereas a rain garden is usually a localized solution to an individual property.” Monsoon gardens are intended to respond to a substantial amount of rainfall and flooding and to account for extremes in the climate to avoid inundating the infrastructure of a community. The goal of this Sedona home was to keep water on the land and not overflow the arroyo.

2. Nature has a lot to teach us.

Anatomy of a Monsoon Garden Native Plant

Thomas J. Thomas J.

For this particular project, Cleland’s team benefited from it being a new construction and did not inherit any poor drainage planning. If you’re working with a site that has existed uninterrupted for many years, respect how it drained naturally throughout that period and take cues for any additional infrastructure. Cleland encourages you “to…

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