Rain Gardens

Streams and Wet Places

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A landscaping idea that is attractive and good for the environment:

A rain garden redirects rain water from a downspout - perhaps diverting it through a streambed lined with smooth river rocks to resemble the bed of a fast-running stream of water - leading to a depressed area planted with plants that appreciate wet spots, such as cardinal flower, blue flag iris, fowl mama grass, assorted sedges, swamp milkweed, marsh blazing star, etc.

In a suburban setting, a strategically placed rain garden captures water that would either stand in low pools in the yard or seep into the basement. On a larger scale, homeowners opting to create rain gardens may also be helping the larger environment:

Kenneth Potter, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin, explains that "as urban development proceeds, the land becomes covered with impervious surfaces — like rooftops, roads and parking lots — that don't allow rainwater to penetrate the ground. Instead, it washes into the gutters and sewers of city streets, eventually ending up as surface water.

"Not only does increased runoff cause higher lake levels and flashier stream flows, but water quality declines because storm water picks up sediments and pollutants as it flows over ground. Rain gardens, he says, provide one way to help counter these effects.

"Rain gardens help capture rainwater directed from roofs or other surfaces. When it rains, water initially pools in the garden's plant zone, percolating quickly from there into the permeable layer underneath. The permeable zone then stores water until it seeps into subsoil. Rain gardens may improve water quality as well, capturing common contaminants such as excess nitrogen and phosphorus."

- from University Communications News@UW-Madison

A Pond in LaGrange

This is a three-level pond, surrounded by native plants.
Pond and "waterfall"

pond 2
Another view of the plants.

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