Earlier this week, Jeff and I attended a free class in Portland offered by the East Multnomah Soil & Conservation District: Rain Gardens 101. A rain garden is a garden of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns. Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff.
We are definitely planning to add a rain garden or two as soon as we can figure out where we want to put them. We quite enjoyed the class and it was worth every penny! If anyone else lives in Portland, you might want to check it out.
Though, one thing we learned is that we shouldn't use copper rain chains because the copper leaches into the water supply and harms salmon. Oh no, we already bought some. Bummer. So now we have to decide if we're going to hang them or abandon that earlier plan. =(
For folks not lucky enough to live in Portland, but who want to build their own Rain Garden, I found a great website that had links to tons of resources for DIYers. Check it out. They look pretty easy to build; mostly just digging holes and planting particular varieties of plants.