Rain gardens are a landscaping option gaining popularity in the Twin Cities. This spring, the Audubon Neighborhood Association (ANA) is partnering with Metro Blooms and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to educate Audubon homeowners on the benefits of rain gardens. Metro Blooms has been a leader in providing low-cost rain garden workshops since 2005.
A rain garden is basically a garden with depressions designed to catch rainwater runoff. Native plants that tolerate occasional flooding are planted in the garden. The result is a beautiful landscape that is also environmentally friendly. The garden soaks up rain, which slows runoff and helps prevent erosion, removing pollutants in the process.
As part of the Neighborhood of Rain Gardens program, all Audubon homeowners are eligible to register for an on-site consultation. ANA is assisting with the cost for the first 50 registrants. Of the homeowners receiving consultations, up to 15 will then be selected for rain garden installation based on the extent of the storm water benefit and visibility.
Twin Cities rain garden workshops and resources:
To register for the Audubon workshop, visit www.metroblooms.org or call 651.699.2426.
Metro Blooms Workshop & Hennepin County grant info and application
Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District Workshops, open house and grant information–scroll down on the front page
Blue Thumb Workshops
Ramsey County Cost share information
Metro conservation districts Map with links to metro conservation districts–many have cost share programs.
According to Matt Brown, president of the ANA Association, “The Neighborhood of Rain Gardens project fits into the Audubon Neighborhood Association’s broader goal of increasing awareness of environmental issues. The program is intended not only to improve water quality, but also to educate our neighbors about the importance of managing storm water.”
Debbie Meister who works for Metro Blooms thinks that rain gardens popularity in recent years is due partially because people are more aware about water issues.
She said that our aesthetics have also changed. “It used to be that a good yard was grass that was well mowed,” she said. “It meant you were a good homeowner.”
Meister, who has a rain garden herself, is seeing more and more of her neighbors planting rain gardens using native plants.
“It is less work. We don’t mow and it looks great,” she said and added that not only are the plants good for erosion but that her yard attracts wildlife including woodpeckers and three types of hawks.
“If you are a birdwatcher, a rain garden is a perfect way to attract birds,” she said.
You don’t need to be an Audubon resident to participate in a rain garden program. Twin Cities residents can find out more about rain gardens and their benefits by attending one of the many rain garden workshops for clean water offered this spring across the metro area (see sidebar.) The workshops are for both beginning and experienced gardeners and shows gardeners how to use native plants in their garden, limit the use of pesticides, capture rainwater on site with a rain garden, redirect downspouts and learn how to plan their garden with one-on-one assistance with a landscape designer.
“There are a lot of programs out there,” Meister said.
You can take a workshop that will teach you how to plan a rain garden, and apply for another that will help you with some of the costs.
According to Metro Blooms Executive Director Becky Rice, “Over 5,000 residents have attended our workshops and over 2,000 rain gardens have been installed.