The Problem With Rainwater Runoff
When it rains, much of that water ends up in storm drains, ponds, streams, and lakes. Unfortunately, the water runs over roofs, driveways, lawns, roads and other surfaces, picking up fertilizers, chemicals, garbage and bacteria.
Water in storm drains isn’t treated, so whatever particles the water picks up from the runoff ends up in our lakes and streams and possibly our drinking water. Not to mention the fish who live in these bodies of water. The EPA in the United States estimates that we can blame about 70% of all water pollution on rainwater runoff!
What’s a Rain Garden
A rain garden is an area of landscaping planted with various shrubbery, perennials and flowers. It is generally built in an area of depression in the lawn, allowing the natural flow of the water into it. And while they can make for attractive landscaping features, there are more important reasons to build a rain garden, if you’re able.
Why Should You Build One?
Remember all that polluted rainwater runoff we talked about earlier? A proper rain garden is designed to act like a way station for that runoff before it gets to the storm drains. A rain garden can remove up to 90% of chemicals and up to 80% of the sediments from the runoff water.
Where The Water Goes
To be clear, this isn’t a pond or a swamp you’re building. Rainwater runoff doesn’t sit in a rain garden. Instead, these gardens are designed to drain the water within a day or two after significant rainfalls. And when it isn’t raining, they should be dry – just like any other garden. This means no worries about still, sitting water attracting mosquitos. And while those of us with lawns might think that they do a good enough job of soaking up water, the fact is that rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground than a standard lawn.
Rain Garden Rebates
Along with the benefits for our water supply, rain gardens can also be a vital tool in the fight against urban flooding in cities. And with that in mind, numerous city governments are giving out rebates for anyone willing to build one. In Ontario, Canada, we found two local governments doing just that.
In London, Ontario, the London Environmental Network has said they will reimburse citizens up to $1,000 to build rain gardens on their property. And in Guelph, the city has instituted a 2022 rain garden rebate of up to $2000 for those who qualify.
If you’re considering a rain garden this year, it won’t hurt to see if the local government in your area is also offering any rebates.