Thinking about the current concern to conserve and be eco-friendly, I decided that I would let you in on one great way anyone can help further conservation. There is a recent trend receiving a lot of popularity among homeowners and other real estate owners called rain gardens. These are designed to help prevent rainwater run-off into sewers, rivers, and streams and help replenish the local groundwater.
What is a rain garden? A rain garden is a strategically placed flower or plant bed of native, deep rooted plants, in a shallow depression. The location of it is planned out to receive the run-off from rooftops, sidewalks, and driveways. This helps conserve municipal water and prevents contamination of streams and rivers since they are not receiving the run-off which may contain fertilizers and other commonly used chemicals.
Why is it okay for the flower or plant beds to receive contaminated run-off instead of the rivers and streams? The water that is re-routed to the rain gardens slowly soaks into the ground and filters naturally in the process. This does not happen when the water is directed to the gutter, into the sewer, and then into streams and rivers. In this process the water just collects even more contaminants, which then contaminates our water systems and reliant wildlife.
A typical rain garden is dug four to eight inches deep, although sometimes as much as one or two feet deep. It is ideal to plant them with deep-rooted native plants as they are more hardy and acclimated to the environment and soil make-up. The depth of the garden is important so that it can hold large quantities of water to decrease the need for irrigation. This also helps recharge the local groundwater while it slowly seeps into the surrounding soil. Because the water is below ground it diminishes standing water and reduces mosquito breeding.
Aside from the environmental benefits of having a rain garden, there are aesthetic benefits as well. With the plants naturally receiving all the water they need, they are able to flourish and create a natural habitat, even during dry periods. This invites natural wild-life, such as butterflies, to grace your garden with their beautiful presence. Also, rainwater is actually better for your plants as it does not contain the added minerals that tap water does, such as lime, calcium, and chlorine. These minerals decrease the quality of the soil and make it harder for the plants to receive the nutrients they need.
Rain gardens can be pretty easy to install on your own. All you would have to do is a little bit of research on native plants that would thrive in a rain garden and download detailed directions on how to install it. Otherwise, you can always hire your local landscape contractor to help you pick out the best plants and do the labor instead. Either way, I hope you have been enlightened and inspired by the importance and benefits of having a rain garden!