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Build a Rain Garden
There's a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens are such a great new gardening trend!
Storm water runoff can be a big problem in summer during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can't handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water! By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you'll be helping to protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution.
To reduce the excess water runoff, many towns are encouraging businesses and homeowners to install rain gardens in their yards. Rain gardens are specially constructed gardens located in low areas of a yard where storm water can collect. The idea is to have the water naturally funnel to this garden. The rain garden collects water runoff and stores and filters it until it can be slowly absorbed by the soil. Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the rainwater can collect in a garden where it will be naturally filtered by plants and soil.
Installing a rain garden is easy.
What makes a garden a rain garden?
Your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the house. The garden's size and location depends on the yard. The ideal situation would be to locate the garden in a natural depression. You also can funnel water from downspouts on gutters into the garden. The soil should be well drained so the water doesn't sit in the garden for more than two days. A special "rain garden" soil mix of 50 to 60 percent sand, 20 to 30 percent topsoil, and 20 to 30 percent compost is recommended. You can dig this mixture into the soil to depth of 2 feet before planting.
Once you've identified the new garden's location, remove the sod and dig a shallow depression approximately 6-inches deep. Slope the sides gradually from the outside edge to the deepest area. Use the soil that you remove to build up a slightly raised area on the lowest side of the garden. This berm will help contain the stormwater and allow it to percolate slowly through the rain garden.
If your rain garden is no more than about 6-inches deep, stormwater will usually be absorbed within a one- to seven-day period. Because mosquitoes require seven to 10 days to lay and hatch their eggs, this will help you avoid mosquito problems.
Your downspout or sump pump outlet should be directed toward your rain garden
depression. This can be accomplished by a natural slope, by digging a shallow swale,
or by piping the runoff directly to the garden through a buried 4" diameter
plastic drain tile.
Plant Selection... The final touch.
New plants should be watered every other day for the first two weeks or so.
Once they are well established, your garden should thrive without additional watering.
Fertilizers will not be necessary, and only minimal weeding will be needed after
the first summer of growth.
Our goal at Garden Simply is to make your organic garden work sustainable; be more productive, and ultimately more fun! Jodi Reichenberger provides education about enhancing you and your family's health through good eating, organic gardening techniques, organic gardening tips, and an all around sustainable lifestyle; providing helpful organic pest control tips (Integrated Pest Managment or IPM)to help you make the most of your effort, and the lastest community gardening and sustainable gardening news out there. Join us! Sustainability is a community effort!
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