Rain Gardens Beautify Your Home and Benefit the Environment

By March 11, 2019 March 25th, 2019 Blog

Rain gardens have numerous benefits to the environment and communities. They help reduce stormwater runoff and keep pollutants from entering our streams and rivers. In addition, they provide habitat and food sources for a variety of beneficial species like birds and butterflies. Rain gardens also provide homeowners and other property owners with an attractive alternative to traditional lawns and can reduce stormwater problems such as ponding water or erosion.

A rain garden is a planted shallow depression that contains water-tolerant native plants. Rain gardens are designed to capture stormwater runoff that flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots. They slow down stormwater runoff and allow it to soak and infiltrate into the ground. This prevents polluted runoff from rushing down the street into storm drains and into our rivers. Though rain gardens capture stormwater runoff, they do not hold water for more than 48 hours and therefore do not breed mosquitoes, which is a common misconception. The native plants in rain gardens are adapted to local soil and climate conditions and require less watering and fertilizing. Butterfly milkweed is an example of a native plant in the Chesapeake Bay region. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed and as such, milkweed is critical for their survival. Planting milkweed in rain gardens help support monarch populations.

Click on this image to view a larger version and see how rain gardens work below the soil.

You don’t have to have a green thumb to install a rain garden on your property. Anyone can do it! If you are interested in installing a rain garden or other stormwater practices, many organizations and government agencies offer funding and technical assistance to help you get started. Here are some programs in Maryland that offer rebates or reimbursements for the installation of stormwater practices:

Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is proud to partner with the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment on their Rain Check Rebate Program. For homeowners and other property owners in Prince George’s County, rain gardens are one of seven eligible stormwater practices that can be installed to receive reimbursement through this program. For this program, rain gardens should total at least 100 square feet, be placed at least 10 feet away from foundations, and be placed at the bottom of a sloped area where water naturally flows and collects. Refer to this rain garden fact sheet to learn more.

Homeowners may also be able to receive a reduction on their Clean Water Act Fee by directing a downspout into the rain garden. By directing the downspout into the rain garden, the runoff that flows off your rooftop will flow directly into the rain garden and be able to soak and filter into the ground, instead of flowing onto the street, into a storm drain, and into our streams.

In addition to rain gardens, other eligible practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Homeowners, businesses, and other eligible applicants can install one or more of these stormwater practices to help reduce stormwater runoff and improve local waterways in the County. These stormwater practices also have the added benefit of beautifying the property.

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Learn More and Apply

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