First and foremost is what exactly is a rain garden? A rain garden is quite simply a shallow depression filled with deep-rooted native plants and grasses that is placed near a water runoff source such as a downspout or a driveway. This placement enables these plants to capture rainwater before it reaches the storm drains.
Why is this important? By preventing the rainwater from simply flowing straight into the sewers, these rain gardens reduce pollution and preserve the natural water system of the area. Rain gardens prevent untreated runoff that is full of pollutants such as oil, pesticides, pet waste and fertilizer from reaching the drain and thus flowing into freshwater sources such as rivers and lakes. It also prevents these contaminants from reaching the ocean and affecting the near shore ocean habitat as we live so close to the ocean.
How does a rain garden accomplish this? The plants in these gardens break down these pollutants and render them harmless and their root systems break up the hard soil, allowing water and nutrients to sink deep underground. This makes the nutrients and water available to other nearby plants as well.
These gardens can be very beautiful. The flowers from these plants attract insects. In turn these insects attract birds, which decreases the number of harmful insects.
Some plants that you might consider using in a rain garden in California include the Western spicebush, Wax myrtle, Pacific ninebark, California gray rush, Marsh milkweed, California lilac, Desert lavender, and assorted sages. There are many other plants to choose from as well, and one should be careful about choosing what to plant in the garden, as many of these plants have allergens as well as being able to grow quite large.
The newly-installed median on Moody St. between Cerritos Ave. and Lincoln Ave. features plants needing little water or maintenance, many native to California. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.
- STORMWATER PURIFICATION: Rain Garden Treatments (baylines.wordpress.com)
- What is a rain garden? (freshairlover.blogspot.com)
- Why do we need rain gardens? (freshairlover.blogspot.com)
- What type of soil conditions are needed for a rain garden? (freshairlover.blogspot.com)
- The Six benefits of rain gardens (freshairlover.blogspot.com)
- Rain Garden – The Suitable and Unsuitable plants (freshairlover.blogspot.com)
- Parking lots get tiny parks, to be ‘rain gardens’ (philly.com)