Rain Garden Class

Rain Garden Class

This weekend I will have my first rain garden class of the year. I reach out to the community to show homeowners the importance of reducing storm water runoff into the watershed by installing a rain garden and/or cistern. The past few years my rain garden class has had a good turnout and people leave with the intentions of seeing if it is something they want to take on.

A rain garden is a depression in your yard that takes storm water runoff from impervious surfaces including roofs and driveways. The depression is usually filled with native plants that help the soil absorb the storm water into the ground. I am giving mine a makeover this year so this is a great time for me to show people what needs to be done. The rain garden I built five years ago had several flaws that I will address in the new installation.

First, I did not dig it deep enough to allow for the compost I augmented the soil with. While checking the garden this spring I noticed that the heavy clay soil had improved significantly from the first excavation. Instead of three inches of beautiful soil I now had over eight, all thanks to the plants in the garden. Since I am digging up my garden and making it deeper I thought this would be a great time to offer a spring rain garden class.

My second mistake was to feed the rain garden via a swale across my gravel drive. The pitch was not adequate and sediment kept blocking the intended path of the rainwater. Since I am making the rain garden deeper, I will be able to install a drain tile in the driveway to improve the water flow. I only use smooth drain tile, never the corrugated type.

I will need to do other landscaping to accommodate the new drain tile, another reason to have it be a part of my first rain garden class of the year. I will have the utilities marked (required by law here in Michigan) and have a sample percolation test. I will be able to show my successes as well as the mistakes, which can be as educational as the successes. The registration is available on the NextDoor website and future rain garden classes I will have the registration available on this website.

Rain gardens and rainwater harvesting is a critical step in helping the watershed deal with storm water runoff. On the micro level, if we all did our part on our property we would significantly reduce the amount of pollutants entering the watershed while helping to recharge the aquifers. There will be more information and links in th resouce section soon.