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Rain Garden Myths

When people first learn about the term “rain garden”, they often have pre-conceived notions about them.  For example, some people begin visualizing a big hole in the ground that fills up with water and can be dangerous for kids.  We would like to clear the air about the following myths:

Rain Gardens are More Maintenance
Rain gardens require no more maintenance than your typical planting bed.  In fact, many common plants that are used around your home can be used in rain gardens.  Using native plants will reduce the amount of maintenance compared to non-natives.  It all depends on the types of plants you specify.

Rain Gardens Create More Flooding
My neighbor asked me once about whether the rain garden I installed in my own backyard would create more flooding in his yard and basement.  I quickly reassured him that unless I secretly piped my overflow into his yard, he would not have any flooding because of my rain garden.  A good overflow plan is important for preventing extra water from going where you don’t want it to go.

Rain Gardens Harbor Mosquitoes

Rain gardens are designed to hold water for up to 48 hours, which is not long enough for mosquitoes to breed.

Rain Gardens are Detention Basins, Ponds, or Wetlands
Rain gardens are none of the above.  They are similar in that they help store stormwater runoff.  However, they are dry most of the time and are not as deep as detention basins.

Rain Gardens Create a Liability
We’ve run into clients that do not want rain gardens because they believe they are a liability.  “Some kid is going to fall in and drown in a few inches of water that may accumulate during a storm event”.  Well, we strongly believe the benefits far outweigh the risk.  In fact, numerous schools around the country have promoted and used rain gardens as educational tools.  Below are just a few examples of rain gardens planted in public spaces or on school properties:

Mount Tabor Middle School – Portland, Oregon (photo by Kevin Robert Perry)
Mount Tabor Middle School – Portland, Oregon (photo by Kevin Robert Perry)
Highpoint - Seattle, Washington (photo by Juan Hernandez Mithum)
Highpoint – Seattle, Washington (photo by Juan Hernandez Mithum)

Neuva School - Hillsborough, California (photo by Andrea Cochran)
Neuva School – Hillsborough, California (photo by Andrea Cochran)

NE Siskiyou Street - Portland, Oregon (photo by Kevin Robert Perry)

NE Siskiyou Street – Portland, Oregon (photo by Kevin Robert Perry)

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