Welcome back to the Summer RAIN Blog! If you made it this far, it means you’ve likely made it through the more content heavy blogs on the hydrologic cycle, wastewater management, and the importance of having green infrastructure in our watersheds. In this blog, we’re looking at why we love rain gardens, and going into detail on our latest rain garden installation as part of the Catch the RAIN program.
We talked about rain gardens on our blog early this spring, so if you’d like to read more of the nitty gritty details of rain garden planning, check that out here!
Why do we love rain gardens?
Rain gardens are an awesome (and environmentally responsible) way to spruce up your yard. We love them because there are endless possibilities when it comes to planning out your garden, making stormwater management a beautiful and customizable option for most yards. Here’s our quick comparison of lawns and rain gardens:
Who do you think wins? Either way, the good news is, most people who have rain gardens also have a lawn—so it is possible to have the best of both worlds! Still prefer a big, green, uninterrupted lawn? Not to worry—there are more environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional, high-maintenance lawns, such as the Eco-Lawn, the Eco-Alternative Mix, or white clover lawns!
Green Venture’s Latest Rain Garden
Last month, we headed out to Dundas with AVESI Stormwater, to install another rain garden! We started out by removing a large portion of sod along one side of the property where two downspouts were located.
A dry rock swale was then created by digging a shallow trench and filling it with rocks to imitate a creek bed. The swale acts to spread and infiltrate water coming from the downspouts, as the gentle slope slowly directs water toward the rain garden. The rain garden was created at the end of the swale by first digging a shallow bowl-shape to catch and filter rain water through native plant roots.
A shallow trench (left) is lined up with the downspout, and will soon be filled with rocks to create a dry rock swale. The image on the right shows the shallow bowl being created for the rain garden, which will be located at the end of the swale.
What are some of the species planted in this garden?
Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) – these beautiful little white flowers have a long blooming period that will attract pollinators all summer long!
Lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) – these eye-catching yellow disk flowers are tolerant of heat, humidity, and drought, and are a butterfly favourite!
Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) – tall, single stems end in a big purple cone-shaped bloom in early summer that attracts birds and butterflies.
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) – large clusters of bright orange flowers contrast beautifully against this dark green and bushy butterfly-magnet.
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) – the blue-green leaves of this mid-sized ornamental grass turn a vibrant rusty colour in the fall, maintaining contrast in your yard and providing an important winter food source for small birds!
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) – fragrant, light-purple tube flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds from mid-summer to early-fall.
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) – striking spikes of blue-violet flowers thrive in rain gardens, and attract pollinators from early-summer to fall.
All of the species listed above are native perennials, so once they are established they require minimal maintenance—just occasional trimming to keep your garden looking neat! However, you can expect to have to do some weeding and watering in the first couple years as the plants get settled. For a list of more native species, and what invasive species they can be used to replace in your garden, check out this “Grow Me Instead” guide that’s specific to Ontario.
Both downspouts were extended to direct rainwater through the dry rock swale and eventually to the rain garden.
We can’t wait to see what this garden looks like once the plants are established and are in full bloom!
Additional information on traditional lawns:
“4 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to a Lawn”: https://www.chatelaine.com/home-decor/grass-lawn-alternatives-canada/
“Another Downside to your Classic Green Lawn”: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/another-downside-to-your-classic-green-lawn-22716743/
Native Plant Photo sources:
Canada anemone – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dendroica/5769313239/
Lanceleaf coreopsis – https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildflowersflorida/8162694140/
Pale purple coneflower – https://www.flickr.com/photos/8583446@N05/6062637660
Butterfly Milkweed – https://www.flickr.com/photos/horsepunchkid/9061367183/
Little bluestem – https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/6188871250
Wild Bergamot – https://www.flickr.com/photos/wackybadger/5960273668
Blue Vervain – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/38735841414