‘Rainscaping’ answers storm water runoff problems

Stormwater runoff can quickly drain a homeowner’s wallet. The flooding erodes yards, soaks basements, pollutes streams and wastes a precious resource.
rainscaping, rain gardensBut rainscaping — an integrated system of directed water flow and settling basins — can convert those losses into gains by providing new wildlife habitat, beautifying properties and in some cases providing food for the dinner table.

Oregon’s springs are a good time to observe how water flows on your property so you can later create a rain garden, said Denise Ruttan of Oregon State University Extension Service.

These landscapes with a purpose are dug-out areas where storm water from a hard surface like a roof or driveway can soak into the soil instead of flowing into a storm drain or sewer system, said Weston Miller, a horticulturist with the extension service. But rain gardens are just a part of rainscaping.

“It’s becoming a pattern of capture and reuse rather than simply moving the water off,” said Pat Sauer, Rainscaping Iowa Program administrator. “There are more options out there than just rain gardens. We’re looking more comprehensively at what can be done on the landscape.”

There are rain barrels or rain water tanks, cisterns, permeable paving, settling ponds, green roofs and berms.

Landscapers often merge art with science. “In Portland, many parking lots and curb strips sport swales (depressions) and retention basins, often decorated with sculptures of leaping fish,” said Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, who along with Apryl Uncapher wrote “Creating Rain Gardens.” (Timber Press, 2012).

“A rain garden is not only a beautiful, low-maintenance, water-saving garden, but can additionally provide habitat and forage for local fauna, sustain select edibles for harvest, reduce pollution, flooding and erosion to nearby rivers and become a daily reminder of the importance of water conservation,” Uncapher said.

Source: Statesman Journal (By Dean Fosdick)

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