Wow, so many great ideas! Thanks everyone!
Jordan Lowery wrote:How many days out of the year is this place flooded? Which parts of the year? If this is the lowest spot on property I'd put a lot of shrubs and trees that won't mind and can be coppiced. Willow and mulberry would be my first choices given the limited details. Coppiced trees and shrubs would provide an excellent resource and a end of the property nutrient trap.
It's only after snow melt or heavy rain. For us that is typically end of winter-early spring and it dries up within a day of the rains ending (or snow melting). I actually forget about the drainage issue for most of the year other than the fact that the area doesn't get much growing on it. The grass never manages to fill in and other ground covers take over until they get flooded out or killed off by the cold. The soil is mostly clay and I'm sure quite compacted. The depression along the edge of our property was perhaps purposeful when they built the housing complex. It provides a river bed from the higher areas of the housing complex down to the lowest part of the complex, which is the park area complete with water retention depressions. But the water must make it through numerous yards, across streets, up curbs, etc. such that I don't think it ever makes it there and instead pools up in our yards. I recently built several hugel mounds in my yard and covered up the grass surrounding the mounds with local wood chips. One of my neighbors thinks I've disrupted the natural flow of water and have made the pooling worse this year. I don't think that is the case at all and neither do my other neighbors. I simply think we have gotten a crazy, crazy amount of rain over the last week. But, I would like to try and do something to capture the rainwater if possible.
So, this idea of a rain garden is intriguing. But I am entirely clueless how to begin such a project. Would I dig the depressions in my yard deeper to prevent the water from flowing through my yard and into my neighbors' yards? It would be a serious pond and I'm not sure I want that. One, I don't want a pond for safety reasons with my little children, two I would worry about standing water breeding more mosquitoes than we already have, and three, when the water dries up for most of the year I would have these large depressions with nothing in them. I can get a willow branch from a neighbor and when I have more funds I could plant some of the other species mentioned. But I'm really nervous about digging deeper depressions. Maybe someone with more experience could help me envision this better?