Rain Gardens: Your Personal Contribution to a Cleaner Green Lake

As mentioned briefly in our spring newsletter, the GLSD currently has a wonderful cost share program rain gardens in addition to shoreline restoration. A newer conservation practice, rain gardens are becoming popular nationwide as many landowners look to limit stormwater runoff from their properties.

Rain gardens are sunken gardens planted with wildflowers and other native plants that collect and soak up rainwater, mainly from the roof of a house, garage, or driveway. The rain garden fills with several inches of water during a storm event and the water slowly filters into the ground rather than running off to a ditch and/or the lake. Prior to development on our lakeshores and wetland areas – native sedges, grasses, flowers, trees and shrubs absorbed and filtered runoff. Some water slowly returned to the lake as it filtered through wetlands, while other water slowly infiltrated into groundwater. The native plants used in rain gardens are not only beautiful, they also provide critical pollinator habitat as well.

As homes around the lake become larger in size, increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces (rooftops, driveways, patios, etc.) is a growing problem. Stormwater runoff from developed areas increases flooding because there are fewer places where rainwater is slowed and infiltrated into the ground. Without rain gardens or shoreline buffers, stormwater runoff can carry bare soil from home construction sites as well as pollutants from roads and chemically treated lawns unfettered into Green Lake. By reducing stormwater runoff, rain gardens can be a valuable part of changing these trends. While an individual rain garden may seem like a small thing, collectively they produce substantial neighborhood and community environmental benefits.