Ideally, water that falls from the sky would go into the ground and nourish the plant life. The perfect balance. However, this is increasingly rare, especially in cities. As populations grow, construction methods are such that ground clearing removes the porous layers that would absorb surface water. Piping and ditch systems are created that “collect and send” water to another location. In storms, these systems become over-taxed and cannot handle the volume and flow of water. Flooding can, and frequently does, occur. Rural areas are better, but compact ground, hilly terrain, clay layers and subsurface hardpan keep water from infiltrating into that ground too, the result being mucky muck in the winter and hard-as-a-rock clay in the summer. Neither allow water to infiltrate. To get the water into the ground is to make the ground more absorbable. A very popular, inexpensive and relatively easy way to do this is with recycled cardboard. Cardboard works because it prevents photosynthesis so weeds don’t grow, it helps absorb & retain moisture, and the cardboard decomposes and adds ‘fluff’ to the hard ground, making space for water to ‘go in.’ I have used this method for more than a decade, in muck and clay, with great success. Here’s a really good example of how to do it.
This Sheet Mulching example is courtesy of the Snohomish Conservation District