Polk County Conservation

Rain Gardens and Barrels

This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.

Hi, my name is Heidi Anderson. I am a naturalist with Polk County Conservation. (pause) Did you know that 50% of the pollution in our lakes and rivers is washed in by storm water? Storm water runoff is unfiltered water that reaches streams and lakes by flowing across paved or hard surfaces like roads, parking lots, driveways, and roofs.

Water sound effect

One way to slow down storm water runoff is to build and install a rain garden in your yard. Rain gardens are landscaped perennial gardens planted with native plants that soak up rain water from your roof, driveway and lawn. These gardens allow 30 percent more water to soak in the ground compared to a conventional lawn. Holding back this runoff prevents pollutants from entering storm drains and eventually streams and rivers. The chances of flooding and erosion to stream banks are lessened by the reduced amount of water that enters storm drains. Plus, rain gardens add natural beauty and habitat to your yard. (frog sounds)

A rain garden should be located in a low spot where water naturally drains. Water from a downspout should flow into the garden. The center will hold water during a heavy rain so the runoff can soak into the ground. For detailed instructions on how to build a rain garden, visit raingardens.org.

Another way to slow down storm water runoff is to install a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect and store rainwater from your rooftop to use later for things like lawn and garden watering. Water collected in a rain barrel would normally flow through your downspout. During a typical moderate storm of 1” of rain during a 24 hour period, over 700 gallons of water will run off an average sized roof of about 1,200 square feet. In one rainy day, your roof runoff could fill up fourteen bathtubs! You can purchase a ready made rain barrel from a number of places on-line or you can build your own. Visit raingardens.org for instructions on how to build a rain barrel.

(Water sound effect in background) Another way to minimize storm water runoff is to limit the amount of impervious surfaces in your landscape. Use permeable paving surfaces such as wood decks and bricks to allow water to soak into the ground. Plant native trees, shrubs, and groundcover. They absorb up to 14 times more rainwater than a grass lawn and they don’t need fertilizer.

Rain gardens and rain barrels reduce the amount of storm water runoff from your yard. You can make a positive impact on the water quality in your area by trying some of these ideas. The steps you take in your own yard can make a big difference.

This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit iowareap.com.

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12130 NW 128th St
Granger, IA 50109

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