Rain gardens to the rescue

Published Aug 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm (Updated Aug 27, 2013 at 11:20 am)

With so many homeowners experiencing flooding this summer, the Scott Conservancy’s upcoming general education program on rain gardens is an especially timely topic.

Roxanne Swann of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania will be the presenter for this community education program, which is open to the public and scheduled for Sept. 11 from 7-8 p.m. at the Lodge in Scott Park.

Rain gardens are a means to manage water year round. While rain gardens may look like the wild flowers and native plants you’d see in any garden, a rain garden soaks up water runoff from roofs, driveways, or paved surfaces, detaining the water so it gradually soaks into the soil rather that flooding areas.

Scott Conservancy Education Chair and Penn State Master Gardener Jane Peart said with a rain garden, “you’re not sending the rain water into storm sewer systems.”

Peart said the idea of rain gardens is growing, as is experimentation with plants that are able to tolerate rainwater that is runoff and not pure rainwater.

Swann’s presentation will include information on constructing a rain garden, as well as a list of appropriate plants. Peart said when designing a rain garden, you want plants that have roots that can sit in water and absorb water slowly, but afterward, can deal with not much water. Some examples of plants and shrubs that would work in rain gardens include Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), and Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens).

Information about rain barrels will also be on the agenda. Peart said many people are interested in collecting rainwater from their roof and roof leaders and collecting it for later use.

If you haven’t tested your lawn or garden soil recently, Penn State soil test kits will be available for purchase. Free, take-home literature covering some general topics of interest such as edible landscaping, lawn management, composting, and native pollinators will also be on hand.

Registration for the program is requested so that adequate seating can be provided and will close when the limit is reached, so respond early. Email - scottconservepa@yahoo.com - or call 412-788-1361, and supply your name and contact information - email address or telephone number or both. The fee for the adult-only program is $5 and will be collected at the door.

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