How to install a rain garden and why it is important to the waterways.

Have you thought about adding a rain garden to your yard or community, but weren’t sure what they do or how to install one?   Patuxent Materials has delivered materials to many Anne Arundel County area contractors and residents for the installation of rain gardens, including the Anne Arundel County Watersheds Academy sponsored rain gardens throughout Anne Arundel county.

Installing a rain garden

For a bit of information on why rain gardens are so important, here’s an excerpt from the Anne Arundel County website on rain gardens:

“Rain gardens are simply low-lying, vegetated depressions–generally 3 to 6 inches deep–which have absorbent soils that temporarily collect stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces and allow the runoff to slowly percolate into the soil. Rain gardens are attractive landscaping features that function like a natural moist garden, moist meadow, or light forest ecosystem. They can look as informal or as formal as you like. While rain garden dimensions vary, remember, any size rain garden is better than no rain garden.

Rain gardens provide flood control, groundwater recharge, and water-cooling benefits, while the plants, soils, and associated microorganisms remove many types of pollutants—such as excess nutrients, pesticides, oils, metals, and other contaminants—from stormwater runoff. Stormwater pouring off hot roofs, pavement, and other impervious surfaces is temporarily captured, cooled, and allowed to percolate into the ground. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which would otherwise contribute to algae blooms and other problems in the Bay, are instead put to beneficial use by being taken up by the plants in the garden. Some studies show that about 50 percent of such pollution comes from individuals and homeowners, through yard care, yard waste, and chemical pollution from household activities.

Native plant rain gardens also become wildlife oases with colors, fragrances, and the sights and sounds of songbirds and butterflies regularly visiting. Additionally, rain gardens increase groundwater supplies, significant because many people get their water from underground aquifers. The replenishment of groundwater—which is particularly important in times of drought—depends on the absorption of rainwater into the ground.

By creating rain gardens and keeping most of the rain that falls on your site contained on site–the way nature intended—you can help improve water quality in local streams and rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials improve the ability of water to filter down and recharge groundwater supplies, unlike turf grass, which tends to form a partially impervious barrier to water infiltration.”

There are many online how to’s, like the one from the Chesapeake Ecological Center for installation of rain gardens, visiting your local counties websites, may help.    The Watershed’s Steward Academy also has great information, including how to capture and reduce stormwater run-off.

Here in Anne Arundel County, we are surrounded by water, from the Chesapeake Bay to it’s rivers and creeks, so promoting ways to keep run-off water out of the Bay and Rivers is of the highest priority.   Luckily, Patuxent Materials in Crofton carries many of the supplies you’ll need to install your new rain garden.   Patuxent Materials Crofton Retail Yard has bulk materials, including LeafGro ® , sands, screened topsoil, mulches and more to jump start your rain garden!    Many homeowner associations are starting to install rain gardens on common areas, why not initiate one for yours?

Remember, do your homework first so you know what to expect.  Your new rain garden area should be planned out, figure the materials and native plants and trees that will be needed beforehand and get any permits or utility services and contacted before installation begins.    Adding decorative rocks or river jacks, available at Patuxent Materials Crofton Retail Yard in or around the garden will also help to naturalize the area.

Severn Grove Rain Garden

Don’t want to install a rain garden yourself?   Notably, Dennis Skaggs, of Severn Grove Landscape, a certified Master Watershedsmen,  has worked with Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy on many projects and provides training to many Master Watershed Stewards.   He has installed many rain gardens in the Anne Arundel County area for homeowners, associations, businesses and alongside future Master Watershed Stewarts during the certification process.  Interested in helping others install, becoming a master steward or want to find out more information about native plants and ways to help the Bay?  Visit the many workshops and open houses throughout the year at the Chesapeake Ecological Center, Watershed Stewards Academy, Arlington Echo, including the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens at the Chesapeake Ecology Center held throughout the summer months.

Have fun, enjoy the rain garden’s beautiful end result and help your eco-system in your surrounding waterways all at the same time!

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