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Rain Gardens Cleaning Up The Environment


Stormwater runoff is considered one of the main sources of water pollution nation-wide.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it accounts for 70% of the pollutants in our water. When it rains, pollutants from our homes, streets, and yards get washed into the storm drains and carried into local rivers and streams. But, a new type of garden is trying to clean up one of Iowa’s natural resource.

     "A rain garden is a natural way of eliminating pollutants from our water sources,” shared Linn County Master Gardener, Marsha Gray.

A rain garden is a planted depression in a yard that is designed to collect excess stormwater runoff.  Because of its design, the water can absorb slowly into the soil where it can be filtered through the soil layers. The roots of the plants in the garden also help to absorb the excess water and filter out pollutants. Because the runoff can be absorbed over a 24 to 48 hours period, it also helps to decrease the threat of flash flooding and soil erosion. With the excess water going into the rain garden versus the storm drains, the amount of pollutants reaching area rivers, creeks, and streams can be reduced by 30%.

Master Gardener Marsha Gray also adds that a rain garden is basically maintenance free. She says that in a drought, may only have to water them a little.  But, during the rainy times, they pretty much take care of themselves.  This means they also reduce your water consumption and cost of yard maintenance.

If you would like more information on building your own rain garden, check out the Linn County Extension Office or visit the demonstration gardens at Lowe Park in Marion, Iowa.
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