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Rainscaping prevents water runoff

A rain garden was built at the Greenwood Public Library. The garden collects water to slow down storm runoff and nourishes plants.
A rain garden was built at the Greenwood Public Library. The garden collects water to slow down storm runoff and nourishes plants.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Heavy rainfall can cause polluted water to run off of lawns and enter large bodies of water.

Rainscaping is one solution to the problem. It involves directing storm water to plants and soils on one’s property, where it’s absorbed.

Rainscaping involves sustainable landscape design and management practices.

“Storm water is water that does not soak into the ground after rainfall,” explained John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener state coordinator, during a webinar.

“As storm water moves across an impervious surface it picks up dirt and debris and pollutants such as chemicals, nutrients or bacteria. The storm water then flows into surface waters.”

There are many ways to rainscape, including installing pervious pavement, planting rain gardens, using rain barrels, reducing impervious surfaces, and conserving trees, shrubs, prairies and meadows.

A rain garden is a garden built with a slight depression at the center, Orick said.

“It’s built with the primary purpose of collecting storm water runoff from an impervious surface, usually a downspout connected to a home or building,” he said.

Typical residential rain garden sizes are 100 to 300 square feet and 4 to 8 inches deep.

Benefits of rain gardens include:

• Increased water infiltration and reduced pollutants.

• Absorbs 30 percent more water than equivalent area of lawn.

• Provides wildlife habitat.

• Reduces maintenance and irrigation once established, but they are not maintenance free.

Learn more about rain gardens and rainscaping at https://extension.purdue.edu/rainscaping/.

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