A rain garden is a functional sunken landscape feature which intercepts runoff from impervious surfaces such as rooftops, roads or parking lots. The rain garden temporarily stores this water until the plants and soil absorb it. Rain gardens are very effective at reducing runoff from your rooftop and removing pollution that is carried with runoff from impervious surfaces.
They can be designed small to treat residential rooftops or be designed much larger for commercial property. The plants used in rain gardens are typically native prairie wildflowers and grasses that have extensive root systems that penetrate very deep into the soil which allows for maximum infiltration and evapotranspiration. Rain gardens planted in soil with heavy clay will need to be dug slightly deeper and amended with compost. Between the compost and the extensive root system of native plants that rain garden will be working like a sponge in no time.
A typical house in Howland will produce about 34,700 gallons of runoff per year and that is not including their driveway. A street with twenty five houses would produce approximately 867,500 gallons of runoff per year and not including the runoff from the street or driveway. That is a lot of water just produced from rooftops. The majority of this runoff can be captured and soaked up through the use of rain gardens.
Rain gardens can be designed with other functions beside just to intercept stormwater. Most of the plants used in rain gardens attract wildlife like butterflies and birds. Humming birds, honeybees and butterflies will be attracted to the nectar produced by these wildflowers. Some flowers are also the host plant for butterflies. The grasses and flowers seeds are eaten by birds and provide cover for them.
The average cost for typical residential rain garden if done by a homeowner is $5-7 per square foot. If contracted out to a landscaper then a typical rain garden may cost $12-18 per square foot. It all depends on your soil types, size of plants and the amount of mulch used. For about $2,000 you can have beautiful, self-sufficient, low maintenance gardens that pretty much eliminates your stormwater footprint.
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Howland NewsletterSpring 2013Now Available!
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