What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is an attractive landscaping feature planted with perennial native plants. It is a bowl-shaped or saucer-shaped garden with deep, loose soil, designed to absorb stormwater run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots.
Rain gardens can be small, formal, home-owner style gardens, large complex bio-retention gardens, or anywhere in between.
Why do we need rain gardens?
Rain is natural; stormwater isn’t. Government studies have shown that up to 70% of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by stormwater. Although most people never think about stormwater, about half of the pollution that stormwater carries comes from things we do in our yards and gardens!
Planting a rain garden may seem like a small thing, but if you calculate the amount of rain that runs off your roof, you would be very surprised.That rain is supposed to soak into the ground, but instead heads down the street to the storm drain, carrying pollution with it.
Keeping rain where it falls, by putting it into a beautiful rain garden, is a natural solution. You not only get a lovely garden out of it, you have the added benefit of helping protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution. You can be part of a beautiful solution!
Don’t Complain, Let It Rain!
More rain in the forecast? Not to worry, we can put it to good use in our gardens while at the same time reducing the strain on our storm drains. In many cases, small modifications in our landscapes can result in the creation of eco-friendly “rain gardens.” As a bonus, keeping rain water on our property can reduce pollution of our rivers from landscape chemicals and other pollutants, decrease erosion, help recharge underground aquifers, and lower the risk of local flooding. Creating small channels that meander away from the house and through the landscape, then sculpting the land with slight hills (berms) and shallows swales) can help to retain the rain on site and reduce the run-off to the gutter. A rain garden can be as simple as the extension of the downspout by a trench or tubing to an area where the water can seep into the ground. Or, it can be a luxurious small patch of water loving plants amidst your water conserving garden. One caution for those of us who have heavy clay soils and poor drainage, the rain garden should be designed to absorb the rain within 24 to 48 hours in order to avoid creating a “mosquito pond garden.”
Stormwater runoff and the resultant pollution of water courses do not receive nearly as much attention as industrial chemical pollution and overt dumping of raw sewage into rivers, lakes and the sea. However, “up to 70% of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by stormwater”. Overloaded stormwater drains can result in runoff reaching- and carrying off material from waste pits, chemical stores, engine bay oil pits and other hazardous waste. Litter in the the form of plastics, also ends up in the waterways with deadly consequences to water fauna. By catching rain and storing it in rainwater tanks, you will be helping to conserve water and save the environment with numerous other benefits. Diverting rainwater directly onto a rain garden is a good, simple solution, but heavy continuous rain may be too much for the garden to cope with. Gray water recycling systems further reduce or eliminate waste water flow into sewers. Water Rhapsody systems are environmentally sound; see our rainwater harvesting faq and grey water faq for further information.