Right As Rain Gardens

By controlling the flow of water from summer storms, you can use it to beautify your landscape.
A rain garden located lower than this patio will capture all the runoff and look beautiful, too. Rain-garden plants must tolerate both wet and dry conditions.

Rain gardens are designed to collect and filter storm-water runoff from surfaces such as roofs, driveways, parking lots and roadways. Consisting of swales planted with woody and herbaceous plants that tolerate both periodic flooding and extended dry periods, these gardens act as artificial wetlands. The plants absorb much of the storm water and the remainder percolates into the soil.

The EPA has determined that up to 70 percent of the pollution in our surface waters is carried to waterways by storm-water runoff. Many studies have shown that the aggregate of non-point sources, such as residential and commercial landscapes with their over-fertilized and poisoned lawns and runoff from driveways and parking lots, may cause more problems than large industrial polluters. 

So think seriously about building rain gardens at your home to contain or slow down your storm water, allowing it to percolate into the soil. Here’s how to get started.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2009 issue