While melting snow and spring rains will likely keep us out of our gardens for a few more weeks, now is the time to do some summertime dreaming and planning. Many people will be doing just that at the Boston Flower Show this week. Massachusetts Watershed Coalition will be sharing info about rain gardens at the EPA booth at the Flower Show on Saturday and Sunday, March 14th and 15th.
Every time it rains or snow melts away, the runoff from hard surfaces picks up and carries dirt, bacteria, fertilizers, pesticides, and debris, as well as oil and other fluids that drip from cars. Our roadways are really intermittent streams and almost all eventually empty into brooks and ponds without treatment. The increased nutrients and bacteria result in more weeds in our ponds, less fish habitat in our streams, and, increasingly, in toxic algae blooms.
Small actions that put rain in the ground quickly or disconnect clean rain from dirty streets provide big benefits. By implementing some simple and low-cost methods, homeowners and businesses can prevent pollution and reduce flooding. With a rain garden as part of your landscape, you’ll attract wildlife and beautify your neighborhood while helping prevent pollution and improve stream life.
Rain gardens are designed to retain storm water for a few hours, allowing it to seep into the ground. This groundwater replenishes waterways between rain events and sustains the health of stream life. Plants and soils in the rain garden help cleanse storm water and remove nutrients that can harm water quality. The plantings attract birds and beneficial insects like butterflies, bees, and dragonflies. Rain gardens make yards more attractive and form mini-ecosystems you will enjoy watching.
Planted with shrubs and perennials, rain garden construction is easy and upkeep is simple and inexpensive. If you do the design, digging, and collect seeds or plants from other people with gardens, the cost will be minimal. Or you can hire a professional landscaper. Depending on the types of plants and accessories you want, costs can range from $2-$5 per square foot for a homeowner installed garden to $8 – $12 or more per square foot for a professionally installed garden.
If you are at the Flower Show this weekend, stop by the EPA booth to pick up a copy of our Rain Garden Pocket Guide. You can also download the free Rain Garden Pocket Guide from the The Massachusetts Watershed Coalition at: http://www.commonwaters.org/images/stories/pdfs/raingardn_gde.pdf.