Rain, Rain, Go Away.

Hello April, we all know your showers will bring us some beautiful May flowers, but poor Minnesota is going to turn into another great lake if your not nice to us! In celebration of the rainy season ahead of us, I thought I would share a few ways to benefit from the rain (aside from free car washes). The first is to create a raingarden. (Rain Barrels are next if you want to skip ahead!) Rain gardens not only buff up your curb appeal, but also reduces rain runoff into our sewers and improves the local water quality in our lakes, which  if you didn't notice, we have a few of! When storm water flows down our roofs and yard it collects pollutants, the rain garden filters this runoff through the various soil layers and deep rooted plants. The water then trickles down into the water bed and into the nearest body of water. This produces clean and healthy water for a future summer swim!

To begin, choose an area where water naturally runs off. Make sure this this area is at least 10 feet away from the foundation of your house (watch out for septic systems and utility lines!) and away from any large rooting trees. Now, map out a diagram of your rain garden. Remember, a rain garden can never be too big, but may be too small if you have alot of run off. When designing your garden, choose a more irregular shape rather than a geometrical one.

 Stake out the plot of land and start digging! The depth to dig depends on the slope and can range from 3-10 inches- make sure the bottom is level so the water doesn't pool. You may need to build a berm (an earth damn) on the slope edge of your hill.


Now for the fun part- choosing your plans! Try to go with native plants as they have deep roots and require less care. Here is a list of native plants for the St.Paul/Minneapolis area to use in your rain garden. Once all plants are in, add mulch and grab a cocktail- your done!

Another fun "preparation for the rain" project is to install rain collectors for watering your garden this summer.

People have been doing this for over 2,000 years, and vintage is SO in this season people! By doing this, you will not only help the environment but also save a buck or two on your next water bill. You can either buy a manufactured barrel, or make your own from a wine barrel (after you drink all of the wine in it of course!) or a plastic drum. Route your runoff in, and attach a spout to run the water out. You may also want to attach a cover, and a runoff spout in case it rains more than you use the water. If you live in the city of Minneapolis, click here for information on how to obtain a rain barrel at half the retail cost for your home. 
Here is a diagram of how a typical rain barrel is set up.

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