Rain gardens go with the flow, helping reduce runoff, improve water quality

As spring shapes up here in Central Kentucky, early flowers are in bloom and trees are starting to bud. For many of us, this sparks an interest in gardening.

One gardening option to consider this year is a rain garden. If you have water issues or just want to enhance your landscape, rerouting stormwater from impervious surfaces around your home into an eco-conscious rain garden.

A rain garden is a garden planted in a shallow depression in the path of stormwater. It allows the water to infiltrate the ground as close to its natural path as possible. One of the most important things to remember when considering a residential rain garden is that it is a garden—plain and simple.

Layout and plant selection are key features in a rain garden, just as in any other garden. Once your site, size and shape are determined, focusing on flowers and other plants is important in making the rain garden an attractive landscape feature for years to come.

There is not a specific model to follow in creating a rain garden. If you have done any gardening at all, you know that the basic recipe for success is preparing the soil and placing the plants in conditions where they will thrive.

Rain garden plants should tolerate standing water for brief intervals, as well a drought conditions. One way to keep a rain garden attractive all year is to make sure the different varieties of flowering plants bloom at different times. Also, adding a variety of heights and textures of plants to your garden will create a sense of depth and visual appeal.

Another consideration for your rain garden is adding garden accessories such as rock or garden benches. This can help incorporate the rain garden into your existing landscaping, as well as give you a nice place to sit and enjoy nature.

If you would like more information about constructing a rain garden, Bluegrass Greensource is offering residential rain garden presentations in Central Kentucky (see below). For more information, check out our rain garden webpage.

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Kara Sayles is an environmental educator, focusing on middle and high School grade levels. In addition, she serves the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance as rain garden project coordinator. Kara holds a bachelor’s degree with a focus on Ecological Design and Sustainable Agriculture from The Evergreen State College. She also received an associate’s degree in Environmental Technology at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 9, 2015.

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