Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens: You may have heard this term recently wondering what is a rain garden. Well with all this rain, I thought I would address Rain Gardens. First let’s address the problem we are facing. I’m sure you have notice a few places that have flooded in the last week or two. When we force all the runoff off of our properties it flows down our street and eventually into the streams. Other than the obvious problem of flooding blocking our road there is a bigger issue. The increased volume erodes the stream’s banks. When the water slows down it deposits the sediment containing fertilizers from our lawns, farms, etc. Most of these little tributaries end up in the Chesapeake Bay, resulting in polluting a very sensitive ecosystem.

So what can we do? There are a

couple simple things we can do on our small properties to make an impa

ct. Water harvesting is the collection of rain water to be reused in some manner. Rain gardens, rain barrels, and underground cisterns are most common ways to collect rain water.

Rain gardens usually do not collect the water for human consumption

, but slows down the water allowing it to soak back into the water table. This can be done by cont

ouring the ground forming small basins. Typically we see swales that channel the water quickly away. The small basins form small puddles in designated areas. Rain Gardens also have plant materials that thrive in moist soils. These gardens give you an opportunity to plant varieties of plants that you would not otherwise be able to have. This may increase your population of butterflies and beneficial insects.

Some of my favorite Rain Garden plants are:
Trees: River Birch, Black Gum, Sweetbay Magnolia, Witchhazel, and Sycamore
Shrubs: Winterberry Holly, Itea , Virginia Sweetspire, Inkberry Holly, Redtwig Dogwood, Highbush blueberry, and Red Chokeberry

Perennials: Swamp Milkweed, Most Sedges, Joe Pye, Weed, Swamp Hibiscus, Blue flag and Siberian Iris, Most Ferns, and Water Forget-me-nots
Often this does not cost the homeowner any more money. Sometimes it can even save money. If you have a portion of your property that collects water, don’t pay to dry it out. All you have to do is change the plant varieties to plants that will thrive in this environment. I agree one property does not make a difference, but we can all do something to help.

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