As landscape designers, we have noticed that a popular trend right now is creating beautiful spaces that are also good for the environment. One way to beautify your space while helping Mother Earth at the same time is to create a rain garden.
Hydrologists estimate that only about 1 percent of the fresh water on Earth exists in a form that is usable to humans. The remaining 99 percent of Earth’s water is salt water or is locked away in glaciers or ice caps. Thus, fresh water is an extremely precious resource that each of us has a duty to preserve and protect.
Unfortunately, human activity is often very deleterious to supplies of fresh water. Rooftops and parking lots, for example, contribute to the pollution of our lakes, rivers and streams when precipitation falls on them and picks up contamination, like oil or road salt, on its way to nearby water sources.
One way to fight storm water runoff like this and promote water conservation is to plant a rain garden.
The term “rain garden” means different things to different people, but generally speaking, rain gardens are collections of plants that are meant to trap water with their root systems before it reaches a nearby stream, lake or river. Often, rain gardens utilize native plants, because these plants are well-adapted to their environments and need little by way of attention.
Rain gardens help local water supplies by filtering out certain pollutants before runoff can re-enter the water cycle. The plants in rain gardens also aid in water conservation by keeping water in their stems, leaves and roots, preventing it from escaping.
An incidental benefit of using native plants in a rain garden is that they can provide habitat and food for birds, insects and small mammals. Many of the plants that are commonly used in rain gardens are beautiful and unique — not something you are likely to see in your neighbor’s landscaping.
Rain gardens are only one way to achieve a beautifully landscaped space.
If you’re interested in other garden and landscaping ideas for your home, we invite you to contact us.