Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rain, Rain, Rain Water Gardens!

The rain coming down on Ann Arbor this past week reminds us of ....rain gardens! Ann Arbor is known for its green initiative, such as using rain gardens and barrels. In downtown, the new city hall has one such garden. As well as most of the public libraries, a few public schools, and many homes.

Image from Master Rain Gardner Hall of Fame

What it is and How it Works

Rain gardens are built with the purpose of redirecting water from impervious surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks, and driveways so as not to pollute our municipal pipes and river, or flood our streets. Instead the storm water is redirected with an attachment connected on your downspout to an area of soil allocated for a garden with native plants (ferns, iris, milkweed, and blazing star) that are known to capture and cleanse water before it seeps into the soil to recharge groundwater.

How to Integrate a Rain Garden Your Home

We figure we will let the experts tell you how you can create a rain garden at your home:

  • Susan Bryan, Washtenaw County Water Resources Office Rain Garden Coordinator, will offer instruction at Ypsilanti's Project Growing Hope workshop: Water Conservation for Backyard Gardenerson Thursday, April 18th from 6:30 - 8 p.m. Cost to attend is $10. 

Image from

An Alternative to Rain Gardens? Rain Barrels!

If you are low on space for an additional garden, try collecting the storm water with a rain barrel. You can use the water to shower your exisiting garden and lawn. Three online locations where you can purchase rain barrels are mirainbarrel,  Huron River Watershed Council, and Washtenaw Conservation District. These websites sell barrels made from previously used food drums and other recycled materials. 

The Benefits

Per the website, one inch of rainfall is the equivalent of 600 gallons of water. Rain gardens have the capability to absorb 25,000 gallons of water. This results in keeping our pipes and waterways less polluted and pools of water off our driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and streets.

The City of Ann Arbor offers Ann Arbor homeowners an opportunity to save money on their water bill through the residential storm water credit. To apply for this credit you must

  1. Make your home a RiverSafe Home.  (Free to participate)
  2. Install rain barrels on your downspouts.
  3. Create a rain garden, cistern, or drywell. 

For more information on applying for the storm water credit for residents please review the City of Ann Arbor website.

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