Rain Gardens and Rain Barrels
By Drew Wallace, Program Coordinator, Water Pollution Control
Looking for creative ideas on how to manage and use storm water before it leaves your property? Give rain gardens and rain barrels a try—this article provides helpful information.
Why a Rain Garden or a Rain Barrel?
Every time it rains, water runs off surfaces, such as roofs, driveways, roads, parking lots and even your lawn. And as it does, it collects pollutants along the way. This runoff has been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency as a major source of pollution to our nation’s waterways. By building a rain garden or installing rain barrels at your home, you can reduce the amount of pollutants that leave your yard and enter nearby lakes, creeks and ponds.
What is a Rain Garden?
Rain gardens are landscaped areas planted with native plants and flowers that collect rainwater. The garden fills with water that comes off the roof of a house as well as buildings, lawns, sidewalks, driveways or parking lots. The water slowly soaks into the ground, rather than running off into a street, storm sewer, ditch, creek or river. Rain gardens can be used in residential settings to accept runoff from downspouts or natural swales in your yard. In a commercial setting, bioretention areas are similar to rain gardens, but are often larger, and have an engineered design. A good example of rain gardens are at Rieke Park. The Auburn Garden Club maintains a couple rain garden areas at the entrance to and in the back of Rieke Lodge that are watered by the downspouts during a rain event. The DeKalb County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) has a cost-share program for rain gardens to citizens of DeKalb County.
What is a Rain Barrel?
Rain barrels capture water from a roof or downspout and hold it for later use such as on lawns, gardens or indoor plants. Collecting roof runoff in rain barrels reduces the amount of water that flows from your property. It’s a great way to conserve water and it’s free water for use in your landscape. The rain barrels can be painted to blend in with the surrounding area or painted to stand out and add to the landscape and curb appeal. The volume of water that runs off a 1,000 sq. ft. roof during a 1” rain storm is 623 gallons. The DeKalb County Soil & Water Conservation District and Auburn Water Pollution Control collaborate together to offer rain barrel workshops in the spring and the fall at no cost to you. You build it and take it home.
These are just a couple ways you can help eliminate water pollution runoff into our waterways from your home or place of business. For additional information, check out our blog on using landscaping to control storm water run-off or visit our Blog section for other articles.
For more information on rain gardens and rain barrels, contact DeKalb County Soil & Water Conservation District at 260-925-5620 x3, or Drew Wallace, Program Coordinator, Water Pollution Control, at 260-925-1714.