Thursday, March 26, 2009

Put in a Small Rain Garden

Put in a Small Rain Garden
Homeowners and businesses can stem the tide of polluted runoff threatening our waterways by setting up a simple "rain garden," which is beautiful as well as beneficial.

The concept of a rain garden, which mimics natural systems, was crystallized in Maryland in the 1990s. The idea is to create a depression filled with plants that collects the rainwater that runs off a building and its landscape. The plants — such as sedges, rushes, ferns, wildflowers, shrubs, trees and so on — absorb the water and release it slowly. This reduces the surge of water running off the landscape, which picks up fertilizers, pesticides, motor oil and other contaminants and carries them into waterways.

Rain gardens reduce the risk of flash floods, and they help stabilize the flow that enters waterways, both in terms of volume and temperature. That leads to healthier streams and rivers. Plus, the plants naturally filter the water, neutralizing some of the toxins that are present. They also provide valuable wildlife habitat.

No two rain gardens are exactly the same. They can be large and interconnected, with different levels and features, or very small and simple. Normally, they are placed in natural low spots, near where gutters drain. Ideally, they are populated with plants that are native to the local area. Sometimes they have swales to maximize their ability to hold water. Get tips on starting one here

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested in a new book, Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge & Everything in Between, by Helen Kraus & Anne Spafford. Its a lovely how-to guide for designing,installing and maintaining rain gardens in home landscapes. It guides the gardener through locating the garden, determining drainage rates, types of soil amendments and includes extensive plant lists for various sun/shade conditions in southern regions. In bookstores or at


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