Water is our most vital resource. Without it, both our vegetation and our species would surely perish. The abundance of water on earth is, in fact, what many scientists argue supports life, and astronomers look for planets with water in hopes of finding life in distant parts of our galaxy and universe.
That being said, conserving and protecting our sources of water is equally vital. There are many ways we can do this, from conservation in our homes by stopping leaks and retrofitting for sustainability to becoming more conscious about our consumption of water and protecting where it comes from.
The importance of water is why you should consider starting a rain garden!
But what is a rain garden? Simply put, a rain garden is an area in your yard that is specially made to absorb and catch rainfall. These are natural or shallowly dug depressions that help prevent rainwater and/or runoff from reaching streets, streams, rivers, and oceans. In effect, there are a number of benefits for the community and the environment:
- Rain gardens help reduce pollution by reducing nutrient loads in storm water runoff
- Help catch sediment and particulate matter that also pollutes the environment
- Increased recharging of groundwater, which is vital for community fresh water sources
- Help prevent flooding and high water risks
- Help save money by reclaiming the water and using it for your home.
- Decrease erosion along streams and rivers
- Help beautiful your home by encouraging natural plant and insect life
The list goes on. Perhaps the biggest benefit of a rain garden is the fact that is extremely beneficial to the world at a very low start up and operating cost. Let’s see what it takes for you to start a rain garden!
Simple Principles on Starting a Rain Garden
First, you’ll want to take some basic principles into consideration.
Number one: you don’t want your rain garden too close to your home or septic tank. Flooding or weakening the foundation to your home can be extremely dangerous, and the same goes for your septic tank or other underground utilities.
Next, be sure to find long-rooted, indigenous plants to your area. These will need less maintenance and will be able to bear the off and on of your local rainfall.
Third, you want to decide on a proper size for your rain garden. Remember, these are shallow depressions and shouldn’t create any safety hazard for you, your family, or guests. As a part of this, you want to be sure that the rain water is absorbed into the ground relatively quickly. If it doesn’t, your plants could drown and mosquitoes could begin to spawn.
Finally, be sure to place your garden in the proper area. Don’t build a rain garden in an already pooling area or one that is out of daily sunlight. Remember, we want to increase groundwater supplies by finding an area that promotes infiltration into the soil. Likewise, we need plenty of sunlight for our plants to grow.
With these basic principles under your belt, you’re on your way to building an effective rain garden. From here, do some planning and decide where you want to start. You’re just a day or two worth of labor away from supporting a cleaner environment with better protection of your natural resources!
For resources on the implementation stage of your rain garden, check out the Rain Garden Information Center!
**As brought to our attention by a reader, some states have laws forbidding the use of rain gardens. Please check your state and local laws before collecting any rain – despite how odd that may sound!