Rain Gardening

You may wonder, in an El Nino year, why I’m talking about rain gardening. Think back to last summer (those of you that live in Connecticut know what I mean–we had 10 inches of rain in June, then nothing until August 9, when we had almost 4″ of rain in a single day. That’s why I refer to “drought and deluge!”)

And while not everyone lives in a climate with such unusual rainfall patterns, everyone gets summer thunderstorms, which are notorious for dumping huge amounts of rain in a very short period of time.

Rain gardens are spots on your property that help deal with the “runoff” from these storms. Lots of gardeners find them far more acceptable then the idea of, say, cutting into a gutter and installing a rain barrel. Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of a new garden (at least in theory?)

Our local University, the University of Connecticut, has put together a brochure and smartphone app on planning these gardens. Information on both can be found here.

Creating a rain garden is a relatively simple process. A depression is created in an area that is “downstream” from the runoff from your roof (either naturally or by directing downspouts to that depression).

The area is then planted with common small trees and shrubs and perennials (the list is amazingly diverse even for our colder area)–native plants have a large place on the list for those that prefer those as well.

Since this area is not always wet, the area is mulched with a reasonable covering of mulch–and then you enjoy, all the while knowing that you are helping to filter storm water runoff and to create a lovely area that will thrive with minimal maintenance.

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