Lesson 3: Help reach goal of 12,000 rain gardens by 2016

By Marla Barhoum | Jun 26, 2013
This is a bioswale at Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. The city also has rain gardens and bioswales at Columbia Elementary, Lighthouse Park, City Hall and the ferry parking lot.

The following is the last of three mini lesson plans the Beacon has run about rain gardens and other Low Impact Development projects residents can install in their yards to help protect our local streams and Puget Sound.

City staff created the lessons as part of a watershed-based Stormwater Strategies Plan developed in partnership with the state Department of Ecology, city of Everett, Paine Field Airport, Mukilteo School District and the Snohomish Conservation District.

For more information, go to www.mukilteobeacon.com or www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us. -Ed.

When it rains, millions of gallons of polluted runoff (from our streets, yards, roofs and driveways) wash into our local waters.

As homeowners, we can take personal control of water quality by building rain gardens to absorb and filter the pesticides, gas, oil and other toxins that may be mixing with clean rainwater on our own property.

The dirty water heads to local storm drains and contaminates local wetlands and bodies of water.

Rain gardens play an important role in keeping rainwater clean; they mimic the forest’s natural filtration system, protecting Mukilteo’s creeks, wetlands, streams, gulches and the water that flows directly into the Puget Sound.

What costs and maintenance are involved with building a rain garden?

The cost of building a rain garden is based on factors such as size, plant variety, soil mixes, doing it yourself versus hiring a contractor, materials, hauling and digging (rental machine or by hand).

In general, rain gardens cost anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 and can fit into many budgets.

The Snohomish Conservation District works cooperatively with others to promote responsible use of natural resources.  They provide workshops on rain garden design and construction basics and can also help on an individual basis.

They also have a cost-share incentive program that can help offset the cost and work in partnership with WSU Extension Master Gardeners that can help homeowners with plant selection and maintenance questions.

Maintenance and ongoing costs on a rain garden are minimal.  The use of pesticides and fertilizers is not needed, thanks to the partnership of rich soil mixes and native plants.

Occasional watering during dry periods and weed removal will be needed in the first two to three years.  Keeping a thick layer of mulch will help hold moisture in the soil, and keep the weeds down.

Some plants may need to be replaced in the first year or two, but after that, the garden sustains itself.

Get your neighbors involved and ask for help when you install your rain garden.  By sharing and teaching others about rain gardens, it engages and reaches others that might not know anything about them.

It’s also a great opportunity to work together on service projects throughout your neighborhood, while developing a sense of pride and ownership and contributing to a cleaner water supply for our community.

Take time to tour rain gardens in action, here in Mukilteo.  You can see them working their magic at Columbia Elementary School, Lighthouse Park, City Hall and Rosehill Community Center.

Touring local gardens will put the brainstorming process in motion. You will get a clear sense of different design ideas and which native plants thrive in our area.

If you’re considering building a rain garden, there are local experts and conservation programs that can help get you started. For more information, go to www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us.

The Seattle nonprofit, Stewardship Partners and Washington State University-Extension has a goal to build 12,000 rain gardens to protect the Puget Sound region.  They collaborate with homeowners and interest groups to restore and preserve Washington’s natural landscapes, including improving water quality.

They seek to protect open space and “green up” our communities. The website also provides online rain garden workshops, instructional videos and more.

Once your rain garden is complete, homeowners are encouraged to register their gardens and post a picture on their website to help reach the goal of 12,000 rain gardens by 2016.

Being an eco-friendly citizen means actively learning and engaging in practices that protect our environment; demonstrating civic responsibility and service, while strengthening local communities through sustainable living.

Inaction will place a higher burden on all of us, including higher levels of toxins in our waters and even greater damage to our natural environment, our food chain, and our economy.  Be part of the action by accepting the personal challenge to build a rain garden.

A single rain garden may seem relatively small, but together they can produce significant benefits to cleaner water and a healthier environment for Mukilteo.

Rain garden community resources

For more information on local landscape contractors that specialize in designing and installing rain gardens and nurseries that sell native plants and soil amendments, visit the City of Mukilteo Storm/Surface Water Program webpage at www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us/Page.asp?NavID=170.

Join thousands of others around Puget Sound building rain gardens!

• 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound: www.12000raingardens.org

• Rain Garden Handbook for Homeowners: www.betterground.org/wsu-rain-garden-handbook/

• Snohomish Conservation District: www.betterground.org

Contact Stacy Aleksich for more information at stacy@snohomishcd.org or 425-335-5634, ext 112. The Snohomish Conservation District will offer a unique rain garden tour this fall, check their website for updated information.

• WSU Extension: raingarden.wsu.edu/Snohomish.html

Rain garden action challenge

I will commit to building a rain garden and being one of the 12,000 rain gardens that will protect the waters in Mukilteo and the greater Puget Sound region.

I will protect the water that falls in my yard and keep it clean.

I will be part of the solution through actively learning and engaging in practices that protect our natural environment.

Name: _____________________________ Date:____________________________

 

 

 

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