Today begins the installation of my rain garden.
There is a corner of my yard that sits so low that a heavy rain will literally wash the dirt and mulch - and seeds -- into the street. I have actually had verbena bonariensis growing in the sediment in the curb.
The really bad news is, that rainwater, carrying, dirt, mulch, nitrogen and pollutants from my roof, washes into a nearby storm drain and straight into the Chesapeake Bay.
A rain garden is a garden built to collect that rain. Sitting even lower that the surrounding yard and constructed with filtering stone or organic material and surrounded by small berms, it traps much of the rain and, over a day or two, allows it to pass down through the earth's natural filters and into the water table. Clean as a whistle.
The rain garden doesn't have to catch all the rain. The first inch contains almost all of the pollutants. But the plants I install there are going to have to be able to handle both drought and boggy conditions -- a tricky combination.
More and more municipalities are requiring rain gardens in new construction. And other communities are installing them in public spaces where rainwater runoff is a problem.
Home gardeners can do their part. A rain garden doesn't have to be large. And it can be beautiful.
Stay tuned here at Garden Variety today for more pictures of the rain garden and more information about installing one of your own.
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Susan Reimer