Rain gardens can help boost city environment

Volunteers harvest the Depot Park rain garden in a post-phragmites area, Sept. 19. Photo provided

Clarkston News Editor

As a member of Friends of Depot Park, Emily Duthinh helps maintain the existing rain garden at the park, ensuring it is protected and expanded.
“This rain garden will be expanded this fall now that the City Hall construction has been completed,” said Duthinh, also president of the North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy Board. “We hope to build additional rain gardens at several locations on city property. Any homeowner can build a rain garden on their property in Clarkston.”
When rain hits the roofs, streets, and driveways of our neighborhoods, it washes pollution into the river.
A rain garden captures the rainwater runoff and filters it clean. One inch of rainfall means 600 gallons of water will be captured by a typical rain garden. Captured water won’t go to municipal pipes, won’t add pollution to the river, and won’t contribute to flooding.
This water will recharge the groundwater while keeping the garden looking green and lush.
A rain garden is an attractive landscaping feature planted with perennial native plants. It is a bowl-shaped or saucer-shaped garden, designed to absorb storm water run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots. Rain gardens can be small homeowner style gardens, large complex gardens, or anywhere in between.
Rain gardens capture stormwater runoff before it pollutes local rivers – while providing beautiful gardenscapes throughout the growing season.
“Anyone can create a rain garden,” Duthinh said. “Rain gardens can be small basins at the end of a downspout or wet area, or they can be large ‘bioswales’ along a road or parking lot.  Many rain gardens are created by homeowners or municipalities along driveways and residential roads or in median strips of highways.
“Essentially, rain gardens are created by excavating a bowl-shaped depression where water typically floods or flows, adding compost, and planting deep rooted native plants that can tolerate and thrive under conditions of both droughts and floods,” she continued. “Many plants native to Michigan’s Great Plains have deep roots and are well adapted to our periods of drought alternating with heavy rainfall and floods.  Become a certified master rain gardener or look online to learn how to build a rain garden in your yard.
“We all benefit from rain gardens.  The homeowner who builds them benefits by reducing flooding and ponded water in their yard, solving their problems of erosion and flooded sidewalks and basements and driveways.  Rain gardens are a beautiful solution to these problems.  Neighbors and communities benefit because storm water does not flood onto their properties and roads, but instead recharges the ground water.  This enables streams to flow year-round, rather than flooding during rainfall events and then drying up. Rain gardens turn rain and snow from a problem (storm water) into a resource (purified ground water).”

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