Rain gar­dens beau­ti­fully han­dle stormwa­ter runoff

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Home & Garden - By Carol Pa­pas

This is the fourth in a se­ries about han­dling stormwa­ter in the home land­scape.

Rain gar­dens are beau­ti­ful, func­tional and an ef­fec­tive way to max­i­mize the cap­ture of rain­wa­ter on your prop­erty.

They are in­ter­est­ing land­scape fea­tures that ab­sorb the rain from roofs and drive­ways and keep runoff from en­ter­ing stormwa­ter drains and tax­ing our wa­ter treat­ment sys­tems

Rain gar­dens pu­rify and fil­ter out pol­lu­tants, re­plen­ish aquifers and re­duce po­ten­tial down­stream flood­ing. If you choose plants care­fully, they also ap­peal to pol­li­na­tors and birds, bring­ing na­ture to your gar­den.

The best place to lo­cate a rain gar­den is near where down­spouts empty or down­hill from ar­eas prone to ero­sion or runoff from im­per­vi­ous sur­faces such as paving. Here are more tips for site se­lec­tion:

• Plan the gar­den at least 10 feet away from a struc­ture’s foun­da­tion to pre­vent in­fil­tra­tion into the space.

• De­cide where you want to view it. Is it to be a fea­ture seen from your house or a place with a pleas­ing street view or some at­trac­tive screen­ing?

• Don’t choose a spot where wa­ter tends to pond; you want the wa­ter to in­fil­trate the soil.

• Check lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal re­quire­ments and be sure to lo­cate un­der­ground util­i­ties.

• Don’t place your gar­den over a sep­tic sys­tem, drink­ing wa­ter well or at the base of a tree.

Once a po­ten­tial site is iden­ti­fied, do a drainage test by dig­ging 18 inches deep. Fill the hole with wa­ter and al­low to drain. Re­fill the hole with wa­ter and as­sess the in­fil­tra­tion rate by checking with a ruler each hour.

the gar­den will hold wa­ter the long­est. The perime­ter can hold most of your fa­vorite plant choices.

Our re­gion has its chal­lenges with flash flood­ing and ag­ing stormwa­ter in­fra­struc­ture. In cre­at­ing a rain gar­den, you are do­ing your part to al­le­vi­ate th­ese prob­lems. It goes a long way to­ward im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and our qual­ity of life.

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