Rain gardens are increasingly becoming popular throughout the world as a means for controlling erosion, mitigating the impact that urban development has on the environment, and even simply adding a bit of natural beauty and elegance to urban areas. In fact, it is entirely possible that you have seen a rain garden and not even known what you were looking at. Before you rush out and try planting one though, you should probably know what a rain garden actually is.
- Where are they used? Typically speaking, rain gardens are used in areas that see regular, dependable rainfall. Often these types of gardens are used to help mitigate the impact that humans have had on their natural world. The first few rain gardens were developed in the United States, Maryland to be exact, where they were hoping to replace some of the natural environment that had been lost over the years to human development.
- What are they made from? Rain gardens were originally designed to be a manmade copy of marshes and wetlands that had been turned into urban development. Typically, these types of gardens have a mixture of different soils that contain about 20% top soil, 60% sand, and 20% compost. This soil mixture helps to prevent the excessive runoff that can be seen around sidewalks and roads. In fact, these types of gardens are often used near these areas to help maintain a city's infrastructure, as well as promoting the growth of plants.
- What types of plants work best? Just like with the natural marshes and wetlands, you should choose plants which will work best in both wet and dry seasons. Typically, you should use plants that are native to your area. If you need some inspiration as to what types of plants will work best, take a walk along a river, stream, waterway, or your local marsh. Using these native plants will actually help provide habitats for local fauna, as well as providing some beautiful flora.
- How much maintenance can you expect? Once you have actually installed the rain garden, and planted all your plants, you will only have to do minimum maintenance. This means that these types of gardens are ideal for people who love nature, and want to give something back to the world around them, but don't have the time to be as much of a gardener as they would like.
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