Rain gardens control runoff and protect lakes and streams

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Category:  Landscape Ecology
Description:  Installing a rain garden is an effective way to deal with water run-off and drainage issues while also protecting our environment.
Author: Tom Barrett
Sunday, March 27, 2011

You know that feeling you get when you do something good for the world and then realized it really wasn’t that big of a sacrifice after all? Like when you decided to start recycling… you are recycling, aren’t you? And now it’s just part of your everyday life. Or remember how good it felt when you spent time helping a good cause. This is the same warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you install a rain garden in your yard.

Rain gardens are an area built specifically to catch and slow water runoff from areas such as roads, patios, roofs, and places where the water cannot be absorbed. The purpose of a rain garden is to keep water from impermeable surfaces like your roof, drive, and patio, contained in an area that has been designed to quickly absorb the excess water and thereby keep the associated silt, fertilizers, and toxins from directly entering lakes and streams. Providing an area where water can be quickly absorbed into the soil and roots of plants or trees, is especially useful when a surge of water enters the area and would typically cause flooding and erosion.

Rain gardens help control runoff and protect our lakes and streams. When rainwater enters lakes and streams in a sudden rush, it brings with it impurities from the environment that have settled on the ground’s surface. This also causes the water temperature to quickly change. These factors cause damage to the ecosystem and animal life living in the lakes and streams.

Now is the time to determine if your landscaping needs a rain garden to control water run-off.

It’s April and this is the time of year when we tend to get most of our rain. Now is when you need to walk through your yard and map the areas where water accumulates. Do you notice any underground springs in your yard? Is any erosion being caused by water runoff from your driveway or roof? What direction does the water flow? This is valuable information for determining the best placement for a rain garden.

Here are a few tips and things we do when building a rain garden:

  • Do not position a rain garden too close to your foundation. The idea is to direct water away from the home to a location where it can be absorbed and filtered by the well-draining soil and absorbed by plant roots.
  • Choose mostly native plants for rain gardens. Native plants are more likely to survive an influx of water runoff
  • An effective rain garden will allow water to drain rather quickly. That is why we typically over-excavate a rain garden and lay in 12 or more inches of good topsoil. If water is allowed to pool, this becomes a breeding ground where mosquitoes can thrive.

Build a rain garden and do your part for Green Landscaping. Read more about building a Rain Garden and Rain Harvesting on our website.

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