Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rain garden love

My decade long love affair with rain gardens came about because of the little piece of flood plain and river we own. I was invited to a Friends of the Rouge event for Riparian land owners. My husband had stopped mowing on the hill, and I couldn’t blame him, it was steep.

At the event, I learned about invasive species, went home, and sure enough there was buckthorn growing like crazy on the hill. There were no understory plants. Gone was the idea that we could stop mowing and the place would return to nature (what ever that is).

I went to an event, put on by SOCWA (South Oakland County Water Authority). I wasn’t a municipality and the event was designed for municipal employees, I went anyway. There was a presentation by Prince Edward County, Virginia, drain commissioner.

He presented the concept of rain gardens. He had slides of rain gardens in use adjacent to Dept of Navy parking lots and subdivision residential lots. Rain Gardens mimic some of the services of wetlands, notably to keep rain water onsight, let it trickle into the ground and recharge watertables. Also notable, rain gardens filter dirt and petrochemicals from the water.

Living next to the river, I regularly see the huge floods caused by runoff from impervious surfaces. The water volume increases as subdivisions are built upstream. Rain gardens made a lot of sense to me, and I began to see the sense in changing building codes to require rain gardens in new subdivisions.

I have since: seen rain gardens solve flooding problems in property around residences in older areas, learned some information about native plants, found people who didn’t think I was crazy for growing milkweed, become a rain gardener and rain garden tuner, and generally fallen under the spell of growing rain gardens.


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