Rain gardens help manage stormwater runoff

People often don’t understand the purpose of a ‘rain garden’. Consequently, they may confuse it with a water garden or a bog garden. In reality, a rain garden is neither. It is, however, an important part of Florida-friendly Landscaping program. This program is a research-based guide to protecting our water resources. By following the nine FFL gardening principles, homeowners maintain healthy and attractive landscapes. And, at the same time, they reduce negative impacts on the environment. One of these principles describes rain gardens as stormwater runoff management.. http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/nine_principles.htm

Currently, homeowners manage stormwater by moving it quickly off their property. As a result, they are actually adding to the water pollution problem. Stormwater from downspouts and landscapes is directed into ditches and storm drains. Eventually, this runoff water ends up in retention ponds, lakes and streams. Consequently, the oil, pet waste, grass clippings, chemicals and soil sediments carried by the runoff water also end up in those water bodies. It’s no wonder that stormwater runoff is the number one pollutant of our water bodies.


Nature’s Rain Gardens
In natural landscapes, there are depressions where water collects with rain water. Over a few hours, the rain water slowly filters down through the soil. Pollutants are filtered out and broken down by plants and microorganisms during filtration. The goal of developing a rain garden is to mimic that natural depression. Similarly, rain water pools up in the landscape and soaks slowly into the ground.
Natural areas are being replaced with buildings and paved surfaces. As a result, the chances of local flooding increases. Rather than soaking into the ground, water is drained quickly into ditches and storm drains. During heavy rains, ponds and streams are quickly overloaded with directed runoff


Benefits of Rain Gardens

There are many more benefits of a rain garden than just pollution control.
Some of those benefits include:
* reducing water pollution
* slowing water movement
* decreasing flood events
* reducing land erosion.
* attracting beneficial insects and pollinators
Also, consider how pretty and sustainable these gardens are in the landscape.

Rain Garden Construction
Locate rain gardens in lawn and landscaped areas where water naturally collects. When necessary, direct runoff water into rain gardens by using small soil berms.

The size of the garden depends on how much water needs to be pooled. Using two or three small gardens depressions works just as well as using one larger area.

Choose plants that can take both soggy soil and periods of drought. Fortunately, many native flowering plants and grasses grow well in these gardens. For that reason, include native plants such as blue-eyed grass, muhly grass, blue flags, common coreopsis and stokes aster for a lovely, effective rain garden.

For details, visit http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/handbook/Reduce_Stormwater_Runoff_vSept09.pdf or call the Master Gardeners on Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 386-752-5384.


Posted: February 28, 2018

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Extension, Water
Tags: Horticulture, Rain Garden, Stormwater Management

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