Green thumbs rejoice! The solution to some of the worst flood-related water pollution may be found in hearty native plants. Rain gardens leverage the power of plants to protect your property from erosion, runoff, and pooling. Once planted, these low-key superstars are pretty low maintenance, so (naturally) we think everyone should have one.
Below you’ll find some of the most common questions we get out in the field. Check out our knowledge base for more info on rain gardens and other awesome stormwater best management practices (BMPs).
General Questions About Rain Gardens
What is a Rain Garden?
Well let’s just start by saying that it’s a beautiful addition to any home, reduces your water pollution by up to 40% and can get you access to government rebates.
As rain hits impervious surfaces like your roof, patio, driveway and sidewalk, it picks up chemicals and pollutants. This water then travels onto the streets where it is contaminated further before polluting and overwhelming our local water systems or bodies of water.
Rain gardens, also called bioretention, are gardens made up of native plants built in a depression of your property intended to capture stormwater run-off. A rain garden neutralizes pollutants and allows water to soak into the ground rather than overwhelming our water systems or contribute to flooding. In fact, rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from stormwater runoff!
What are the benefits of a Rain Garden?
– Helps prevent flooding to your property and community
– Aesthetically pleasing and enhances property value
– Provides habitat for birds and butterflies
– Helps keep water clean by filtering stormwater runoff
– Recharges groundwater supply
What goes into building a rain garden?
At its simplest, a rain garden is a man-made depression in the ground that can fill with water diverted from the downpipe of a building, or run-off from a hard surface such as a driveway. Rain gardens work as a basin for pooling water and absorb water within a day or two.
It can be landscaped with cobbles, pebbles and gravel, which, with a surrounding rim made from the excavated soil, called a berm, can add some attractive topography to a flat site.
What kind of maintenance is required for a Rain Garden?
Rain gardens built with native plants require little maintenance. Native plants are already adapted to their environment, don’t need a lot of watering and won’t need pesticides. They are easy to establish and grow fast. Native plants have robust root systems that penetrate deep into the soil which allows for good drainage. In fact over maintaining and weeding a rain garden can do more damage then good by accidentally removing native plants that best absorb and filter your stormwater. When maintaining a rain garden you want to look to remove trash and/or any obstructions to the entrance and overflow are of your rain garden.
How does a Rain Garden Look
There are different styles and sizes but here are a few examples:
Where should a Rain Garden be placed in my yard?
Rain gardens should be strategically placed—located where water naturally flows on to your property and/or from impervious surfaces like your roof, driveway/parking area, or hardscapes. Additionally it is important that rain gardens are installed at least 10 feet from your foundation, and at the edge or outside of any tree cover to prevent from damaging tree roots.
Do Rain Gardens attract mosquitos?
Standing water attracts mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need standing water for 7-12 days to complete their life cycle. Rain gardens are designed to hold water for a maximum of 48 hours to ensure they do not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. In fact, rain gardens should help prevent mosquitoes since they encourage water to drain back into the ground faster.
How much does a Rain Garden cost?
The cost of Rain Gardens can vary regionally. Historically rain gardens can cost anywhere from $20-40/sqft. The following variables can have the most impact to the total cost of your specific rain garden; size, local cost of labor, plant selection, and whether or not your soil conditions require additional modifications like an underdrain or soil amendments to meet adequate infiltration standards.
Are there minimum requirements in order to qualify for an Incentive?
Each incentive program is different and has its own unique standards and requirements based on the local government or region offering the incentive. Some programs will require a minimum project size of your rain garden or permeable pavers, some may require a minimum of impervious area to be treated. It varies from incentive program to incentive program.
Rainplan helps you discover what incentive programs your property is eligible for and understand the program’s specific requirements to ensure you maximize and receive your benefits!
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