Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stormwater Solution

With all the rain we've gotten in the VA area yesterday and today I thought I'd focus my post on water...

I participated in a workshop through the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) for their newest program called RiverSmart Homes. They have developed several programs to help mitigate, treat and hopefully lessen the amount of stormwater that goes into the sewer system and gets treated on site. Having the water re-charge the aquifers instead of eroding the streambanks is a huge goal, but an attainable one. It's also a beautiful habitat for birds, bees, insects and butterflies and a great amenity to look at!

One of the programs, geared toward contractor's is to install Rain Gardens for homes that have been through the DDOE application process and have received approval and grant money. The good news is that there are a LOT of homeowners who have applied and been approved. The bad news is that there aren't enough people to do the work!

This one day training taught us about the why's and how's of rain gardens as well as an afternoon session of installing one!

The first step before we even arrived on site is to do a "perk" test. This tests the percolation of the water in the soil. You don't want to install a rain garden in an area that doesn't drain well. So ensuring the soil drains within 24 hours is ideal, this is the hole (photo below) we used to test.

Here is the beautiful soil (photo below) we added to the rain garden we dug out. It was roughly 250 sq. ft. although it was a kidney shape, so not particularly easy to calculate for us "non math" people...This is a mix of compost, pine fines, sand and topsoil. Each mix is different and is based on site conditions.

Here I am (in pink!) adding the soil to the rain garden that we've dug out. Back-breaking work, but SO worth it!

Here is the finished product, lots of native plants, Viburnum, Columbine, Iris and Joe Pye Weed, these will all fill in and leave little soil exposed and will help take root to soak up all that rain!

Have any of you added a Rain Garden to your yards?



  1. Hi Amy,
    We live in a really high water table area (I didn't know that term before b/c I grew up in land locked Dallas, TX) ---- and always have a TON of standing water when it rains. In fact, my husband has concocted this syster of getting the water to drain quicker. Love the rain garden idea!

  2. I've never even heard of such a thing. But it certainly makes sense! And the one you've created looks like it will be just beautiful as it matures.

  3. We're just getting ready to plant our second rain garden. The city just finished up with making the curb cut. Good luck with yours.