Building a Rain Garden

Storm-runoff gardens can create a beautiful and practical solution
By Anne Spafford

The term "rain garden" is a bit of a misnomer. Sounding like it is some kind of a water-logged bog, a rain garden, in fact, is a slightly sunken garden designed to capture storm-water runoff. Rain gardens can alleviate erosion on your property while trapping fertilizers, pesticides, and organic pollutants, like grass clippings, before they wash down storm drains; from there, they can enter creeks and streams and cause algal blooms, reducing available oxygen for fish and other animals. Rain gardens to the rescue! Water is trapped and pollutants are removed by plant roots and the garden's filter bed. Once caught in the filter bed, earthworms and micro-organisms ingest and neutralize these contaminants.

A rain garden can be as simple or elaborate as you like, and it can be installed in less than a day. Think of this: If everyone with a yard planted a rain garden, polluted runoff coming from residential neighborhoods would be substantially reduced.

Illustrations: Beverley Colgan