Rain Gardens – Your Personal Contribution to Clean Water

You can personally contribute to cleaner water and beautify your landscape simply by constructing a rain garden.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions planted with native plants or cultivars that collect rain water mainly from roof tops or paved areas. The water filters into the ground rather than running off into storm sewers which eventually run into lakes and streams. These gardens benefit the environment by filtering pollutants from stormwater runoff, recharging groundwater and preventing drainage problems. They also provide valuable wildlife habitats.
Rain gardens are easy to construct and maintain similar to any perennial garden. Rain gardens can be constructed with tools you already have and can be easily made to fit the existing landscape. The biggest jobs are properly locating the gardens to capture the most runoff, preparing the depressed planting bed and pulling weeds until plants are established.
Plant selection is important for a rain garden’s functionality and aesthetic value. According to Greg Berg, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District Shoreland Specialist, “It is best to use a diverse set of plants, half native grasses and half wild flowers, to provide diversity for wildlife and enhance infiltration. There is a wide variety of grasses and flowers to choose from which can be tailored to fit the look desired.”
Are rain gardens a breeding place for mosquitoes? No, they are designed to infiltrate water within 48 hours. Mosquito eggs and larva cannot survive in such a short time period.
To get started designing your own rain garden contact the Stearns County Soil & Water Conservation District to obtain their free homeowner’s guide to construction and maintenance of rain gardens. Local Conservation and Watershed Districts are also available to answer questions and provide technical assistance.
While an individual rain garden may seem like a small thing, collectively they produce neighborhood and community environmental benefits. Make your personal contribution to cleaner water and plant a rain garden.

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