Rain Gardens A New Lanscape

The indigenous soil and forests of many regions accumulate, sieve, and gradually release fresh, clean water to streams, wetlands, and estuaries. The varieties of life in marine and fresh water, as well as on land, require clean water to thrive.

As human populations intrude and alter natural settings, native forests and soils are replaced with roads, rooftops and other hard surfaces. When it rains or snows, more water flows from these surfaces than undisturbed areas, carrying oil, fertilizers, pesticides, sediment and other pollutants downstream. In fact, much of the pollution in streams, wetlands and rivers now comes from storm-water (water flowing off developed areas). The added volume of water and associated contaminants from developed land are damaging water resources and harming aquatic life.

One possible solution is a type of landscaping called the rain garden-
WHAT IS A RAIN GARDEN?
A rain garden functions like a native woodland by collecting, absorbing, and filtering storm-water runoff from man made structures that don’t allow water to soak in. Rain gardens are designed as low depressions that:
Can be formed and sized to fit your landscape.
Are constructed with soil mixtures that allow water to infuse quickly and support healthy plant growth.
Can be filled with a variety of plants to fit the environs.

Rain gardens are one of the most versatile and effective tools in a new approach to managing storm-water called low impact development (LID). An LID project may incorporate several tools to soak up rain water , reduce storm-water runoff , and filter pollutants. Some examples of these tools include permeable paving , compost-amended soils, vegetated roofs , rainwater collection systems and rain gardens.

Rain gardens provide multiple benefits, including:
Filter oil and grease from driveways, pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, and other pollutants before they reach the storm drain and eventually streams, wetlands, lakes and marine waters.
Reduce flooding on neighboring property, overflow in sewers, and erosion in streams by absorbing water from impervious surfaces.
Provide habitat for beneficial insects and birds.
Increase the amount of water that soaks into the ground to recharge local groundwater.

Maintaining the rain garden
Rain gardens need maintenance just like any landscaping, to perform well and look good. However, a well-designed rain garden needs minimum care.

If it doesn’t rain , water your plants until they are established. Once the deep root system has grown into the soil,they will probably survive a drought. But until then, just like any newly planted perennials , they need water to get started.

Watering Tips
Water deeply, but infrequently, so that the top 6 to 12 inches of the root zone is moist. To know if you’re applying enough water , dig down 12 to 18 inches off to the side of the plant a few hours after watering- don’t disturb the roots.
Use soaker hoses or spot water with a shower type wand.

Mulching
Mulch prevents erosion, controls weeds, replenishes the organic material in the soil, and improves infiltration. Every year check the mulch layer and, if needed , add shredded or chipped hardwood or softwood to the sides and coarse compost to the bottom to maintain a layer that is about 2-3 inches thick. Mulch can be applied any time of the year, but assuring an adequate mulch layer for the dry summer and rainy winter months is particularly beneficial.

Weed regularly. A nicely prepared rain garden is a great place for invasive plants to start growing. This is where mulch comes in handy; it will be simple to just pull those little seedlings out before they get established. Excavate or pull weeds out by the roots before they go to seed.

Exposed soil and erosion
Sediment flowing into the rain garden can clog the soil mix and slow drainage. Sediment carried out of the rain garden can harm streams and wetlands in many ways, some of which include transporting pollutants, covering fish spawning areas , and filling in stream channels and pools. If erosion persists in the rain garden , too much water may be flowing into the garden too rapidly. In this case, the slope of the pipe or swale directing water to the garden or the amount of water may need to be reduced.

Any rain garden is better than no rain garden. If you don’t have a rain garden, runoff from your rooftops, lawns, and driveways will continue, with rain and snow melt, contributing to water pollution rather than curing it, as nature intended. Every little bit that you can keep on your property helps!

The indigenous soil and forests of many regions accumulate, sieve, and gradually release fresh, clean water to streams, wetlands, and estuaries. The varieties of life in marine and fresh water, as well as on land, require clean water to thrive.

As human populations intrude and alter natural settings, native forests and soils are replaced with roads, rooftops and other hard surfaces. When it rains or snows, more water flows from these surfaces than undisturbed areas, carrying oil, fertilizers, pesticides, sediment and other pollutants downstream. In fact, much of the pollution in streams, wetlands and rivers now comes from storm-water (water flowing off developed areas). The added volume of water and associated contaminants from developed land are damaging water resources and harming aquatic life.

One possible solution is a type of landscaping called the rain garden-
WHAT IS A RAIN GARDEN?
A rain garden functions like a native woodland by collecting, absorbing, and filtering storm-water runoff from man made structures that don’t allow water to soak in. Rain gardens are designed as low depressions that:
Can be formed and sized to fit your landscape.
Are constructed with soil mixtures that allow water to infuse quickly and support healthy plant growth.
Can be filled with a variety of plants to fit the environs.

Rain gardens are one of the most versatile and effective tools in a new approach to managing storm-water called low impact development (LID). An LID project may incorporate several tools to soak up rain water , reduce storm-water runoff , and filter pollutants. Some examples of these tools include permeable paving , compost-amended soils, vegetated roofs , rainwater collection systems and rain gardens.

Rain gardens provide multiple benefits, including:
Filter oil and grease from driveways, pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, and other pollutants before they reach the storm drain and eventually streams, wetlands, lakes and marine waters.
Reduce flooding on neighboring property, overflow in sewers, and erosion in streams by absorbing water from impervious surfaces.
Provide habitat for beneficial insects and birds.
Increase the amount of water that soaks into the ground to recharge local groundwater.

Maintaining the rain garden
Rain gardens need maintenance just like any landscaping, to perform well and look good. However, a well-designed rain garden needs minimum care.

If it doesn’t rain , water your plants until they are established. Once the deep root system has grown into the soil,they will probably survive a drought. But until then, just like any newly planted perennials , they need water to get started.

Watering Tips
Water deeply, but infrequently, so that the top 6 to 12 inches of the root zone is moist. To know if you’re applying enough water , dig down 12 to 18 inches off to the side of the plant a few hours after watering- don’t disturb the roots.
Use soaker hoses or spot water with a shower type wand.

Mulching
Mulch prevents erosion, controls weeds, replenishes the organic material in the soil, and improves infiltration. Every year check the mulch layer and, if needed , add shredded or chipped hardwood or softwood to the sides and coarse compost to the bottom to maintain a layer that is about 2-3 inches thick. Mulch can be applied any time of the year, but assuring an adequate mulch layer for the dry summer and rainy winter months is particularly beneficial.

Weed regularly. A nicely prepared rain garden is a great place for invasive plants to start growing. This is where mulch comes in handy; it will be simple to just pull those little seedlings out before they get established. Excavate or pull weeds out by the roots before they go to seed.

Exposed soil and erosion
Sediment flowing into the rain garden can clog the soil mix and slow drainage. Sediment carried out of the rain garden can harm streams and wetlands in many ways, some of which include transporting pollutants, covering fish spawning areas , and filling in stream channels and pools. If erosion persists in the rain garden , too much water may be flowing into the garden too rapidly. In this case, the slope of the pipe or swale directing water to the garden or the amount of water may need to be reduced.

Any rain garden is better than no rain garden. If you don’t have a rain garden, runoff from your rooftops, lawns, and driveways will continue, with rain and snow melt, contributing to water pollution rather than curing it, as nature intended. Every little bit that you can keep on your property helps!

M. Wakefield

http://www.better-landscaping.com/

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