Q:

What is a rain garden?

A:

Quick Answer

A rain garden is an attractive landscaped space placed in a lawn to take advantage of large amounts of rainwater. Rain gardens slow the movement of rainwater, allowing accumulated nutrients to soak into the soil rather than storm drains, and prevent soil erosion.

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Rain gardens provide a number of benefits. In addition to being an attractive landscaped space, these garden spaces can be used to attract and support beneficial insects, such as birds, butterflies and bees. Installing a rain garden helps the environment by slowing rainwater runoff and allowing the nutrients contained in rainwater, including nitrogen and phosphorous, to soak back into the soil where it can be absorbed and used by plants, rather than accumulating in the water supply. Excess nutrients in water supplies can create an overabundance of algae, which affects the quality of the local watershed. Slowing the speed by which rainwater moves through a property prevents soil erosion, improving soil quality.

Native plants such as grasses and prairie plants are ideal for rain gardens because they are already acclimated to the local environment. For more attractive gardens, some non-native ornamental varieties can be used as long as they are non-invasive and are well suited to the extremes that exist in a rain garden.

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