"The smell of rain can reduce stress and improve one's mood by 60%"
I found that statistic online today - I have no idea if there's any truth to it. I love a rainy day, snuggled under a blanket on the couch, as much as the next person. But when those rainy days come one after another after another, it starts to wear on one's spirit! Any with nary a clear sky in the extended forecast, I thought we could look at some positive things to do with all this extra H2O in our lawns and landscape!
Rain gardens are attractive, landscaped areas planted with perennial plants and native flowers that don’t mind getting their "feet wet". These pretty gardens are mostly built in depressions in your lawn, which are designed to capture and filter storm water runoff from surfaces around your home, like rooftops, driveways and patios, effectively removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediment from the rainwater runoff, and allowing 30% more water to soak into your lawn.
This is important because the EPA estimates that pollutants carried by rainwater runoff account for 70% of all water pollution in rivers, lakes and streams. When stormwater runs off roofs and driveways, it collects dirt, fertilizer, chemicals, oil, garbage, and bacteria, enters storm drains untreated and flows directly to nearby streams and ponds. Creating a rain garden can filter thousands of gallons of water each year, and will help keep your yard from flooding.
The Ground Water Foundation has a great resource here with instructions for Do-It-Yourself rain gardens. And the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District Group lists the best, native plants for water gardens and tells you where to buy them locally here.
Rain barrels are containers that capture and store the stormwater that drains from your roof and through your gutters. These barrels usually range from 50 to 80 gallons and have a spigot for filling watering cans and a connection for a soaker hose.
Penn State University's Plants and Pets Extension discusses the use of rain barrels here and attributes the following environmental and individual benefits to their use:
- Save drinking water resources. On average, nearly 30% of our daily water use is attributed to lawn and garden care. Collecting water from rain events decreases the amount of drinking water used to water plants and after all, clean, fresh water is a limited, precious resource!
- Decrease water and sewer bills. Capturing rainwater also keeps money in your pocket by reducing the amount of water needed from municipal sources.
- Utilize higher quality water for plants. Water collected from rain events is better for plants than treated water (which often contains chlorine).
- Reduce rain runoff pollution. This is the pollution mentioned earlier that is created as rainwater picks up contaminants enroute to local streams and rivers (Since rain barrels reduce the amount of water that runs off your property, they also reduce the amount pollution that can harm aquatic and human life.
*Please note that if you have an old tar and gravel roof, old asbestos shingles, treated wood shingles or shakes, a copper roof, or if you have a zinc anti-moss strip, you should specifically avoid watering edible plants with roof water runoff. Also, pay attention to the type of gutter you have, since some may be coated with lead-based paints.*
You don't have to have a brown lawn to be water-wise. In fact, a beautiful water-wise landscape can add to the value of your home while you save more and more. For more information, check out your local library or conservation district for books and videos on water-wise landscaping and gardening.
Click below to download our free May Homeowners Lawn Care Guide, and see what other things you can be focusing on in your lawn this month.