Here in Portland Oregon we get on average about 37 inches of rain every year. When rain lands on a hard surface, like the roof on your home and flows into and out of the rain gutter it goes somewhere. And many times that somewhere is into the municipal sewage system and often the Willamette River. Along the way this rainwater picks up pollutants, such as oils found on the roadway. This contaminated water can and does pollute our rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries.
As citizens of the United States we don’t necessarily have a fair understanding of the importance or scarcity of clean drinking water. When we turn on the tap, the water comes out strong, fast and pure. But in many parts of the world and even some parts of the US, clean drinking water is in high demand and short supply.
Aside from a common practice like turning the water off while brushing your teeth, there are other great ways to protect our water supply. One way that we can take action in the landscape is to disconnect down spouts from the municipal sewage system and or direct water from downspouts into a rain garden.
Not only is a rain garden good for the environment it can be a beautiful feature in the landscape. A rain garden is a planting area situated in a depression in the ground. The soil beneath the rain garden is amended to enable efficient drainage of the water back into the water table for use down the road. The rain garden is planted with a combination of plants that can handle moist soil or wet feet and plants that are drought tolerant. Because as Portlanders we know that we get very little rain in July and August, when we need it most.
One of my favorite plants for use in a rain garden is Blue Arrows Rush, Juncus Inflexus. I like this plant for a variety of reasons. For starters it has a very elegant dark green color and a relatively upright growing habit. Additionally it is very tolerant of moist to wet soil, but can also thrive during the dry conditions we experience in the heart of summer.
Rain gardens are a great addition to the landscape. If you are considering installing one I recommend that you take a look at the Oregon Rain Garden Guide. Also, it goes without saying, Wheel & Barrow Landscape Design and Maintenance would be excited to design and maintain a rain garden for you. Feel free to contact us should you have an interest in a rain garden.