Creating a Rain Garden for Storm Water Runoff

       A rain garden collects storm water runoff from paved surfaces and rooftops, filtering the polluted water before it flows down to our streams, rivers and cherished water sources.  Rain gardens are beneficial to the environment and can be a beautiful landscape feature in your yard as well.  Simple to create, rain gardens are typically shallow depressions in the earth that contain plants, flowers, and small bushes. 
         When soil and plants are not present, rainwater will fall to pavement and rooftops, becoming contaminated with oil, chemicals and other harmful contaminants.  This polluted water is rushed down storm water systems, direct on the path to soiling our water.  With a rain garden, the water is held for a longer period of time and absorbed into the surrounding soil.  The plants help to filter out pollutants in the water and the water is purified in the process. 
         How to create your own rain garden:  Select an area around your home that is down grade from gutters or adjacent to your driveway.  This will ensure that the natural flow of storm water reaches your garden.   Estimate the size of your garden, which is typically the 1/3 the size of your roof.   Your garden needs to be around 8 inches below your lawn level.  The best soil for rain gardens is fast-drying sandy soil so that the water will drain slowly.  The edges of your garden should be slightly raised, particularly around areas that slope down heavily beyond your garden.  Use organic compost and native plants, grasses and shrubs. 
         Rain gardens mimic Mother Nature’s intentions for rain and water purification, helping to keep our water sources clean and free of industrial hazards.  At the same time, you get to enjoy the benefits of a low-maintenance garden that attracts wildlife to your home. 
Post by:  Brandy Unrein