Subsequently I heard about the ACES' interest in installing a rain garden at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama (PMAL), where I also volunteer. I decided this would be a great opportunity to learn exactly what a rain garden is, what it does and how to correctly install one.
Very simply put, a rain garden is a depressed flower bed (about two feet in the ground), placed at least ten feet from a building structure, to collect rain water runoff, thereby:
- preventing the runoff from contaminating nearby water sources
- enabling the water to reabsorbed into the ground, which acts as a natural filtration system
- preventing erosion
After an extensive calculation to determine the ideal spot and size, a 250 sq/ft rain garden was installed at the PMAL on a rainy and very cold morning. It is filled with Coreopsis, Agarista, Stokes' Aster and Echinacea. It needs some time to grow in, but should be promising in the spring.
Obviously I unknowingly skipped a few steps in my personal installation, particularly the two-feet excavation, but mine does just about the same thing. Bear in mind, this isn't anywhere close to 250 sq/ft. Of course, most of it has now died back with the frost. But I'm looking forward to enjoying it in spring.