Most city-dwellers suffer from awfully unusual problems: clusters of built up properties clog the urban skyline – replacing the beauty of nature with unsightly concrete and steel – and issues that arise due to stormwater runoff. Thankfully, modern solutions do exist; and one of the most ingenious of these is to implement a simple rain garden. A rain garden is a man-made depression or hole in a landscape, usually filled with plants. When starting your own rain garden, you could even check your yard to find the natural depressions where puddles form, and start from there.
The main function of a rain garden is to be able to collect and filter out pollutants from stormwater runoff, and aid in water penetration and filtration. That is pretty powerful stuff – and the benefits of rain gardens in cities do not end there.
When it rains, runoff from various impervious urban structures like roads and roofs collect an assortment of pollutants. The runoff will bring with it fertilizers, bacteria, trash – and even harmful chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorous. This polluted runoff will then make its way into our streams and other natural water sources. The pollutants don’t only affect humans that depend on the water source, but are harmful to aquatic life as well. Another problem that arises when there are floods, is that the runoff can cause erosion to the natural environment, which can damage soil and crops.
Rain gardens serve to absorb some of the runoff, before it has the chance to infiltrate the natural water sources, and so it serves as a good preventive measure to counteract some of damage caused by the above issues.
When a rain garden is created using indigenous plants (as it should be), it helps the environment by attracting and sustaining the fauna that is naturally drawn to the plants and flowers. Rain gardens are shown to attract butterflies and birds. According to the Rain Garden Network, rain gardens also reduce mosquito breeding, and increase the amount of beneficial insects in your garden, whilst warding off pests.
One of the most powerful advantages to implementing your own rain garden is that it can aid in recharging local groundwater. Groundwater is a very important natural resource. It is the source of drinking water to most rural communities, and is largely used for irrigation. Ground water is often the only source of clean water for fauna and flora. Rain gardens gather the polluted runoff and filter the water while absorbing it into the ground.
Because of this, you should always makes sure that the flowers and shrubs you choose to plant are suitable and adaptable to pollutants that will infiltrate the soil, as well as plants that can also thrive in drier conditions, when there may not be that much stormwater – and also to minimise your gardening maintenance as a bonus!
Lastly, rain gardens add a sense of beauty and tranquillity to urbanised areas. So much time and effort can sometimes go into architectural designs, and we forget the importance of the visual appearance of natural elements. Beautiful flowers and the fauna they attract make a home or busy city area much more visually appealing, and sustainable.