Written by Stephanie Williams, Program Coordinator
Photo Cred: Zoe van Duivenbode & 12,000 Rain Gardens
What exactly is a "rain garden"?
A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden specially designed to catch rain water from roofs and pavement. It helps to slow down the water and clean it naturally before it runs off into our streams, lakes, rivers, and ultimately Puget Sound. Without simple, natural solutions like rain gardens, rain water picks up nasty chemicals and bacteria from our pavement and built environment. This contaminated water then rushes too quickly into larger bodies of water, where it has very harmful impacts. Untreated polluted runoff can kill an adult salmon in as little as three hours!
Although a rain garden’s main purpose is to prevent the number one polluter of Puget Sound, these natural beauties have other benefits as well. Here are just a few to get you started:
1) Installing a rain garden can be a simple step to beautifying a community space or adding curb appeal to your home. The different colors and textures from stones, grasses, flowers, and plants in your rain garden will break up a boring landscape. Some communities in Puget Sound have already decided to take out unsightly and unnecessary pavement in order to add rain gardens. What a great way to instill pride and a sense of community in a local public space!
2) By using native plants, rain gardens can also promote biodiversity and attract wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and bees. Of course these creatures are fun to look at, but they are also important pollinators for growing many of our favorite local foods.
3) Since rain gardens slow the flow of water, they also prevent flooding. As climate change gives our region more intense rain events, rain gardens are a plan for resiliency.
4) Rain gardens are a great way to give your neighbors yard envy! Check out this video about the unquestionable community support for installing rain gardens in Snohomish County!
Polluted run-off is a very serious threat to Puget Sound waters. Rain gardens are such an easy solution for tackling this issue and reaping additional benefits along the way. If you’re still curious, one way to understand a rain garden is to see one first hand. Click here to see where there might be a rain garden in your area.