Backyard Conservation: Rain Gardens and Native
When areas are developed, the
amount of impervious surfaces (hard surfaces such as rooftops,
driveways, and compacted lawn areas where water cannot soak into the
ground) increases. This means that more water runs off of the surface
to storm drains and surface waters and less water soaks into the
ground. The extra runoff can cause erosion, decreased groundwater
recharge and, when the runoff picks up pollutants in its path,
pollution of lakes, streams and wetlands.
A rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to collect storm
water runoff and allow it to absorb into the ground. Some of the water
is used by the plants in the rain garden and the remaining water
filters through soil layers before entering the groundwater system.
Many people have installed rain gardens in their home landscaping not
only for the water quality benefit, but for the aesthetic benefit. Rain
gardens can use a wide variety of plants with varied blooming times and
an array of colors. The rain gardens also become home to an assortment
of wildlife such as birds and butterflies.
Native plants are recommended for rain gardens and native gardens
because they are adapted to the local climate, generally don't require
fertilizer, and are more tolerant of the local soil and water
conditions. Native plants typically have deep root systems that help
enhance infiltration (water soaking into the ground), allow them to be
drought tolerant and anchor the soil to prevent erosion.
Financial Incentive Programs:
for Clean Water Grants
Thumb - Planting for Clean Water
Landscaping for Clean Water
Landscaping with Native Plants (DNR)