Landscape Logic column: Keep rain in your yard using a special garden
A common sense approach to cutting water use is to collect rain that runs off the roof into a rain barrel. Residents in dry areas around the country collect rain to water their gardens. Yet, in Colorado with our complex water laws, rain barrels are illegal.
Rain gardens, however, are not.
Rain gardens offer a sustainable approach to managing rain that falls on your property. Rain that runs off quickly is literally water down the drain — and increasingly, water gushing down the drain is a serious issue for many cities. The faster water gushes across concrete and pavement, the sooner it clogs the storm water system and creates floods.
In cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, about 90 percent of their surfaces are impervious. In other words, there are few porous areas where rain can soak into the soil as Mother Nature intended.
When we paved paradise and put up a parking lot, we created a lot of floods and other problems. All of the water from rain and snowmelt gushing into the storm water system contains pollutants like nutrients from fertilizers, road salt and bacteria that can threaten aquatic life and public health.
EVERY DROP COUNTS
While the rain falling onto the landscapes around our individual homes seems like a drop in the city’s collective bucket, every drop still counts. Every drop that goes down the drain is water you can’t use to sustain plant life and that adds to a community-wide problem.
If you are installing a new landscape or renovating an existing one, then consider making a rain garden part of your plan. On the surface, a rain garden looks like an attractive garden with herbaceous perennials, woody shrubs and trees. It may support habitat for birds and butterflies, it may be a formal landscape amenity or it may be incorporated into a larger garden as a border or as an entry feature
A rain garden has a slight depression to help collect water to slow the run-off and allow water to soak into the soil. It will need plants that can withstand extreme moisture conditions ranging from flooded to dry. The goal is to create an area that is both attractive and functional.
When you add a rain garden to your yard, you can enjoy its beauty and be proud that you have taken a sustainable step to slow and reduce water run-off and to help cleanse what water does move off your landscape.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.