Install a rain garden to reduce storm water pollution in your own backyard

A rain garden is an attractive, landscaped area planted with perennial native plants which don't mind getting wet. They are beautiful gardens, built in depressions, which are designed to capture and filter storm water runoff from impervious surfaces around the home, such as rooftops and driveways.

The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District (Cuyahoga SWCD) is making it as easy as possible to plant a rain garden by providing an opportunity to purchase rain garden plant kits. Orders can be placed through Cuyahoga SWCD and the plants will be shipped directly to you anytime throughout the growing season - May 20-September 30, 2011.  Please allow three weeks between order and delivery. Call Amy Roskilly at 216-524-6580 x22 for more information.  Or download an order form at: Plant kits order form.pdf

Each kit contains 38 native plants of 10-12 species and is enough to cover approximately 100 square feet. Plants are grown by Ohio Prairie Nursery, a local grower/distributor of plants native to the Great Lakes eco-region. Plant kits are $105/each. To view the Ohio Prairie Nursery Garden Kit Product Sheet go to: Kit info Sheet 2011.pdf.

Plant kits available to order:

  • Rain Garden (Sun)
  • Rain Garden (Shade)
  • Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden (not considered a rain garden)

The benefits of rain gardens are multiple and include the ability to perform the following functions:

  • Help keep water clean by filtering storm water runoff before it enters local waterways
  • Help alleviate problems associated with flooding and drainage
  • Enhance the beauty of individual yards and communities
  • Provide habitat for food and wildlife including birds and butterflies
  • Recharge the ground water supply

As development increases, there are more demands placed on our local environment. Impervious surfaces associated with development, such as rooftops, driveways and roads, are areas that shed rainwater. Construction activity on development sites usually compacts the soil, limiting the ground’s capacity to absorb water. Taken together, these factors reduce the ability of our landscape to absorb and filter storm water.

Impervious surfaces can negatively affect our environment as they increase storm water runoff. Consequently they increase the chance for pollution to enter our waterways through our storm drainage systems, including sewers and open ditches, which flow untreated to our streams and lakes. The type of pollution that results from storm water runoff is called nonpoint source pollution. Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have shown that a substantial amount of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by runoff from our own yards. Some of the more common nonpoint source pollutants include fertilizer, pesticides, pet wastes, grass clippings and yard debris. An easy way to help keep these pollutants out of our local waterways is to install a rain garden!

An important part of the function of a rain garden is the plants that are used. Perennial native plants must be used for the rain garden to have maximum effect. However, it can be difficult to find these native plants at your local nursery.

Native Plant benefits:

Sustainability: Able to reproduce and populate without water, fertilizer, or other chemicals.

Habitat: Serve as nectar and food source for pollinators; attract native animal and bird species.

Water Quality: Deep root systems open soil pathways to allow rain water percolation; plant top growth filters pollutants and particulates improving water table quality.

Aesthetics: Beautiful to the eye and alive with birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc.

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District mission: To promote conservation of land and aquatic resources in a developed environment through stewardship, education, and technical assistance.

Claire Posius is the Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District.

Claire Posius

Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 8:35 AM, 06.05.2011