Rain Gardens for the Homeowner
Water, Water Everywhere!
Rain Gardens capture water and are attractive when installed properly and managed.
During the days of torrential summer downpours do you find your rain barrels are all at capacity, yet you still have a ton of water running off your roof with no clear plan of what to do with it all? Well, perhaps a rain garden is just the ticket!
Non-point pollution from storm water runoff is a huge problem in our rapidly urbanizing state. Conventional wisdom of several decades ago used to dictate that storm water runoff should be directed off of your property and into the storm water drainage systems, but that was before we had so many impervious surfaces (roads, driveways, etc) and before we had so many sources of potential contamination. Oil leaked from cars, chemical spills, dog feces and excess fertilizer are just a few of the nasty pollutants that storm water can pick up on its journey.
Rain gardens are natural filters
Establishing a rain garden can help to create a place for some of this water to go, to gradually percolate through natural filters of rocks, sand, soil and plant roots so that it recharges the aquifer with cleaner water. This is important, because that is the water we rely on to drink and shower in! Many cities and counties are now incorporating rain gardens into public landscaped spaces like municipal buildings and parks. It is also part of the criteria for new Green Building development.
Where would I put one?
The most logical place to put a rain garden is near where a downspout already directs water, which is probably also a slightly lower area of the yard. Some excavation will be needed to open up a greater area and additional rocks and stones of different sizes can be used for both beauty and function. Plant selection should be carefully researched ahead of time to ensure that only Florida-friendly and native plants are used that can tolerate both long periods of standing water as well as prolonged dry seasons. Plants such as native Muhly grass, Carolina aster, Canna lilies, African iris and certain milkweeds will fit the bill. As with any change to your landscape, you will need to have prior approval from your HOA or Condo Association (if you have one) before you decide that a rain garden is for you. Also, call 811 prior to any digging, a free service that will come out to alert you of any underground utilities in your yard. Rain gardens are a beautiful and functional way to do your part in your yard to reduce storm water runoff. For more information, please visit: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/rain-gardens.html
Are you looking for more great information, visit the Manatee County Extension webpage at https://tinyurl.com/yb8oo9g5.
Lastly, bring your gardening problems for us to examine. The Plant Diagnostic Clinic is located at 1303 17th Street, West in Palmetto. You can also call us at (941)722-4524. Do you want to save gas, try to email a question, problem, or photo to ManateeMG@gmail.com? Call for our hours of operation.
Content provided by Susan Griffith, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator; Edits by Lisa Hickey, Sustainable Food Systems Extension Agent