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How Is Your Drainage?

"A fresh mind keeps the body fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday. As to the morrow, time enough to consider it when it becomes today: - Edward G Bulwer-Lytton

This summer has dumped numerous areas in the country with record rainfall and unfortunately, flooding. Who would think that Las Vegas or Phoenix would have jet skiers and canoes  rippling through flooded streets? Highways caving in? Houses becoming lonely islands? Where does that water all go? If you think that you have drainage problems, just watch the daily news!

A persistent water drainage problem will take it's toll on your home's foundation, your yard, your plants, and may impact your next door neighbor. I had a drainage problem on the side of our house a few years back. The water ran out of our gutters so quickly that it eroded the immediate landscaping and the lawn. My solution was to install a dry creek bed  with rocks that winded gently through my ornamental grass garden. It was both functional and beautiful. It helped for a time until the gutters became cluttered and the rains hit harder. I still had some runoff and my wood chips took a swim throughout my grass garden. Irritating! Last weekend I implemented phase 2 - this week calls for more record rains so my new area will be put to the test. I placed a dry "pond" bed in front of the existing creek bed (see pics). Filled with about 7 inches of rock by the plastic drain pipe, I am hoping that some of the water will be caught and slowly drain before the water rolls through the creek bed. No one can see that the rocks are hiding landscape fabric and a pipe that allows water to sink in and allow the necessary drainage that is so critical to preserving my landscaping.

Drainage issues are the result of poor soil, poor construction, bad location, working against mother nature.. the list goes on. To test if there are issues with your soil try this test at Soil Basics. You can either work against the issue or work with it. Of course nothing will help when flood waters unexpectedly hit. My suggestion? Work with the drainage problem and look at it as an opportunity!
How to let it flow in your garden:
  • Make sure that your issue isn't due to clogged gutters or roof issues.
  • Plant a bog with rocks and blog plants in wet areas where water collects.
  • Put in a dry river stream with rocks and make it look natural as it weaves through your yard.
  •  Add copious amounts of compost to wet soil if you have a small area where drainage is poor. This will improve the soil texture and help with drainage.
  • Install a rain barrel to collect water. Divert roof water into a barrel so it doesn't drain into the yard. Check out this site for tips on how to Make a rain barrel.
  • Put in raised beds over a site with poor drainage. I actually did this in an area where the roots are so thick the water can't drain nor can I grow anything. I put in metal fire rings, filled them with soil, and I have gorgeous planters overflowing with color - not water!
  • Dig a ditch to divert the water if it will be someone hidden - and safe.
  • If the problem is serious, get professional guidance on installing tiles or drainage pipes under your soil.
"No one loves the messenger who brings bad news" - Sophocles

Drainage doesn't just apply to our yards. Sometimes we are put in the tough position of delivering bad news. It's critical that we allow negative information to seep in and drain through the heads of our teams. It's not easy and can cause "erosion" with people. I have been through a few mergers and it's a process that takes days or weeks to filter and categorize. I liken it to the death of someone. First you are shocked. You don't believe it. People around you are zombies. Then you slowly feel the words sink in. Next, you accept that someone died. The process goes on until you allow it to infiltrate your mind and jump out of a fog to move on.

 What if YOU are the one that has to break bad news? How do you help it filter and drain to your teams without cutting morale or drowning them? How do you prevent a flood of emotions and chaos? It starts with the delivery.....

How to keep information filtering without draining your team:
  • Be honest and open. Don't try to make news "better" by leaving out facts or dancing over them. People will catch on quickly and you will lose credibility. 
  • Be accurate, straight forward, and speak with empathy.
  • Don't apologize. You can't control things. Apologizing may make you look guilty or weak. 
  • Be willing to listen. Say what you need to and be quiet. Respond to questions and don't be afraid to admit that you don't have all the answers.
  • Give people time to reflect on information. Reconvene later when they have had time to process.
  • Check in periodically with your team to feel their pulse and let them know that you are available.
  • Communication frequently and relay the same message. Be consistent.
  • Don't deliver news and then act as if nothing has changed. In the minds of others, A LOT has changed and they are probably thinking about it constantly.
  • Encourage people to talk to one another. Whether news affects one person or a whole company, people need each other and need to communicate as a community.
  • Let people grieve individually or as a group. However, don't allow it to persist or it will spread negativity.
  • Offer solutions whenever possible. Offer timing for further communications and stick to it.
  • Take about next steps and what you see the future holding in a bright light - but be honest and don't embellish!
  • Remind people that problems, failures, negative situations help us to all grow and together we will all get thorough some tough times.

When you lead, no matter what your role, you are in the drivers seat and set the tone, pace, environment, and maybe even the outcome of delivering negative information. Put yourself in the place of the person on the other end and think about how you would want to hear information. I know that I want the truth up front and want to know my options and how I will be affected. I also want to know how my inner circle will be affected as well. After all, teams support each other!

What will you do to change how you deliver negative information going forward? How will you take the lead in controlling the "drainage"?

Dry creek bed to combat poor drainage

"When a tree falls it resounds with a thundering crash; and yet a whole forest grows in silence" - Jocelyn Murray