Rain gardens are a beautiful and functional feature of a home that bring much added value both ecologically and financially. To many, rain gardens may seem like a pricey alternative to conventional gardens as the upfront costs tend to be a bit higher than a standard garden. However, this may be deceiving once one understands the added value of rain gardens, both on financial and ecological as well as practical grounds.
Rain gardens are precisely what the name implies, it is a section of a garden with plants and flowers that are fed rainwater from the roof gutters of a home during precipitation. Instead of draining rain away from the property via gutters and sewers, rain is directed into a depressed section of a grass lawn where special plants and flowers are planted. Water retained in the raingarden feeds the plants, supports photosynthesis, provides sustenance to small animals inhabiting urban areas such as birds and squirrels, contributes to a cooler micro-climate via evapotranspiration, enables ground infiltration, cleans rainwater before it runs off into the nearest stream or channel and is an overall attractive feature of a house. However, there is a host of hidden financial benefits to rain gardens as well.
Traditionally, when it rains, water is seen as a waste product and hence is drained away from the property as efficiently as possible via gutters and sewage networks. During sunny days, many homes use the same water that they use for cooking and hygiene for watering their gardens. Effectively, as is the case in many municipalities in Europe and others across the world, home owners are paying a municipal fee or tax for rainwater drainage from their property during precipitation while during sunny days, they are paying for using potable water to water their gardens. A properly designed rain garden gets rid of both these expenses and carries with it the already mentioned ecological benefits. Rain gardens are designed in such a way that water is retained up to 48 hours within the raingarden after a rainfall. Vegetation planted in rain gardens is not only selected for its aesthetic appeal but is resistant to drought as well, meaning that they can go without water for an extended period of time.
With many urban centres putting a cap on water consumption during summer or offering incentives to reduce water use for garden irrigation (i.e. California), rain gardens are an effective means of both cutting costs and contributing to the well-being of the environment while retaining the attractiveness of your home. By implementing a rain garden on your property, you will save costs in the long run by cutting your costs for stormwater management and you will not be paying extra for water during sunny days because your rain garden will be designed in a way that it will be able to handle prolonged periods of drought until the climate in your region is gradually restored.
If all this seems a daunting task, or if you already happen to have the perfect garden and do not want to “dig into it”. Then the easiest and most effective option is to collect rainwater in large barrels. This water can then be used during dry spells to water your garden and lawn. You can make water barrels an attractive feature of your garden as well:
There are some minor disadvantages to collecting rainwater in rain barrels such as relying on them during dry periods is limited by their capacity and they may take up further space if that is something that your garden does not have much of. Otherwise, they are a great addition as a rain harvesting feature to increase water supply for your gardening needs and returning the water back into the small water cycle via evapotranspiration.
Please send your questions, comments or pictures of your completed rain gardens to firstname.lastname@example.org