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Citizen Involvement

Rain Gardens

Why are rain gardens important? As cities and suburbs grow and replace forests and agricultural land, increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces becomes a problem. Stormwater runoff from developed areas carries pollutants from streets, parking lots and even lawns into local streams and lakes; and leads to costly municipal improvements in stormwater treatment structures. Landscaped areas planted to wild flowers and other native vegetation that soak up rain water, mainly from the roof of a house or other building. The rain garden fills with a few inches of water after a storm and the water slowly filters into the ground rather than running off to a storm drain. Compared to a conventional patch of lawn, a rain garden allows about 30% more water to soak into the ground.

While rain gardens are a highly functional way to help protect water quality, they are also gardens and should be an attractive part of your yard and neighborhood. Think of the rain garden in the context of your home’s overall landscape design. Here are a few tips:

  • When choosing native plants for the garden, it is important to consider the height of each plant, bloom time and color, and overall texture.

  • Use plants that bloom at different times to create a long flowering season.

  • Mix heights, shapes, and textures to give the garden depth and dimension. This will keep the rain garden looking interesting even when few wildflowers are in bloom.

Download this pdf “How to Manual for Homeowners” for more information.

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