Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rain + Garden = Rain Gardens

With all the rain this weekend I was inspired to put up a post on rain gardens. They are not only beautiful, but functional too.

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You might ask, what is a rain garden exactly?
It's a shallow depression that is planted (typically with native plants) and allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas the opportunity to be absorbed.

Building a rain garden allows the plants to filter out pollutants, reduce flooding, and allow our groundwater to re-charge.

As we are building and developing more and more we are having to find smarter ways to build and to treat stormwater on each site. I have a lot of homeowners with big runoff issues, who have to deal with their water as well as homeowners who want to capture the water we get for free and re-use it.

By using native plants (I'll list a few for our area-Northern Virginia, Zone 7), rain gardens often need less maintenance, watering, fertilizers and pesticides than traditional gardens.

Aster, Bee Balm, Blackeyed susan, Cardinal flower, Goldenrod, Ironweed, Iris, Joe Pye Weed, Lobelia, Spiderwort, Swamp milkweed, Virginia bluebells.

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Beautyberry, Arrowwood viburnum, Clethra, Chokeberry, Dogwood, Highbush blueberry, Hydrangea (oakleaf), Inkberry holly, Spicebush, Swamp azalea, Virginia sweetspire.

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Black gum, Downy serviceberry, Eastern redbud, Hornbeam, Serviceberry, Swamp white oak, Sweetbay magnolia, Witchhazel.

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Typically this is not something your average homeowner tackles. It involves calulations, heavy machinery and a lot of labor! But the results are worth it, let's take a look:

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(Image from the EPA front garden here in Washington, DC)

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