What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is a functional landscaped area that is strategically designed to collect, store, and absorb storm water runoff in its loose underlying soil. Rain gardens should use native plants and water retentive soils to aid in the reduction of runoff and the absorption of water in to the groundwater system.
How do rain gardens help the Potomac?
Excess water from rain events that flows over the hard, impervious surfaces (such as pavement and cement, roofs and turf) is known as surface runoff. This surface runoff runs straight into the Potomac and is one of the leading causes of water quality problems, especially in urban and suburban locations.
This fast moving water picks up and washes everything it encounters into the Potomac, including motor oil, excess fertilizers, litter, herbicides, etc. These pollutants can have devastating effects on the natural ecosystems in the Potomac and therefore, the Chesapeake Bay. By strategically placing a rain garden on your property, it will work to slow down surface runoff. A rain garden’s vegetation and soil work as important filtering agents, removing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water while it soaks through the soil and into the groundwater supply, thus reducing harmful pollutants in the Potomac and the greater Chesapeake Bay.
What else can you do in your garden?
Another great way to decrease the amount of surface runoff entering the Potomac is by containing it in a rain barrel. Rain barrels, found at your local hardware store, connect easily to your gutter system and work to store rainwater runoff from your roof. Most rain barrels come with a hose attachment or spigot so that the collected water can be used to water your home garden.