A simple planter can solve your stormwater runoff!

Those who live in Costa Rica already know that living in the tropics means not only living in paradise, but also having to deal with the forces of Mother Nature. One of these forces: water. Last rainy season left us a lesson.This summer is a great time to implement sustainable and simple practices that will protect your home from future unwanted floods and landslides. Remember that climate change is a problem that seems to be increasing rather than being solved.  Instituto Meteorologico Nacional de Costa Rica announced a heavy rainy season for this year.

So why not plan ahead and install an infiltration planter?

Section for an infiltration planter

An infiltration planter is a small contained vegetated area that naturally collects and treats stormwater. Layers of soil and plant´s roots filter all pollutants coming from downspouts, parking areas, and streets. This treated water is absorbed by the ground where the soil allows it, or if infiltration is not appropriate, this filtered water is discharged into a traditional stormwater drainage system. Native water-loving plants shall be used.

If your land has a slope, then channel rainwater from the top and build a concrete box  downslope. You will not only avoid erosion, but you will guide water right where you want it. Away from your home! For example at Noel Jansen´s residence at Esterillos, I am  designing a sustainable infiltration system. The house is located on a moderate slope and due to the soil cuts that we will be forced to do, in order to achieve ocean views, I will collect and channel rain water from the top of the hill to 3 specific points on a lower level. Noel will never experiment erosion on slopes or flooding underneath the main level of the house.

Dotted line is where the channel is going to be, box is downslope

It sounds like a simple  common sense thing to do, but as an architect I believe that simple and traditional practices have to be included as part of a project in early design stages. This planter can save you from very serious situations like distorted foundations, floods that may carry diseases like dengue, excessive wall moisture and erosion that may cause landslides.

Drop a line if you want me to design a system like this at your place!

  1. Sue Reynolds said:

    I began installing “wetlands” septic wastewater treatment projects at client projects in the States. This is essentially similar to what you describe but on a much larger scale.

    Are these being installed in Costa Rica??

    Great blog!


    • These kind of subjects are not very well known in Costa Rica, actually, there is no company that specifically install this kind of systems. It is something that I ( or other architects with some knowledge in Bioclimatic architecture) can plan and build with the aid of some men, in case of residences. Some specialties are carried out this way here…Costa Rica is beginning it’s sustainable construction path.

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