What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape that collects rain water from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property. Rain gardens can also help filter out pollutants in runoff and provide food and shelter for butterflies, song birds and other wildlife.
More complex rain gardens with drainage systems and amended soils are often referred to as bioretention.
Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they generally don’t require fertilizer and are more tolerant of one’s local climate, soil, and water conditions, and attract local wildlife such as native birds. The plants — a selection of wetland edge vegetation, such as wildflowers, sedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs and small trees — take up excess water flowing into the rain garden. Water filters through soil layers before entering the groundwater system. Root systems enhance infiltration, maintain or even augment soil permeability, provide moisture redistribution, and sustain diverse microbial populations involved in biofiltration. Also, through the process of transpiration, rain garden plants return water vapor to the atmosphere. A more wide-ranging definition covers all the possible elements that can be used to capture, channel, divert, and make the most of the natural rain and snow that falls on a property. The whole garden can become a rain garden, and all of the individual elements that we deal with in detail are either components of it, or are small-scale rain gardens in themselves.
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