What Is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is much like a regular flower garden, except that mainly native plants which can tolerate wetter soil conditions are used. The deeper root systems of native plants allow storm water runoff to penetrate the soil more efficiently.
This reduces runoff and the associated nonpoint source water pollution that is often dumped into waterways.
Native plants are a much more valuable food source for birds and other wildlife. Rain gardens should not hold water for more than 24 hours, to prevent the reproduction of mosquitoes.
Helping Improve Water Quality
Rain gardens, bio-retention basins, and cisterns at Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center demonstrate strategies that protect Silver and Shoal Creeks, the primary water source for the City of Joplin. Our facility contains structures that capture water from the roof, roads, and parking areas. They filter sediment and pollutants in addition to providing habitats for wildlife.
TogetherGreen, a collaborative effort between Audubon and Toyota, engaged 200 people in conservation action and rain garden workshops. Attendees received plants to start their own rain gardens and learned about the benefits of using native plants. This effort aligned with our Operation Backyard Recovery launched after the 2011 tornado that reduced much of Joplin to a blank slate with the loss of homes, businesses and habitats. Many workshop participants had lost homes in the disaster. Audubon also reached out to other Joplin not-for-profit groups. With the help of volunteers, seven rain gardens were built to serve as community models.
How to Create Your Own Rain Garden
Creating habitat is one conservation action that many people can take to make to help birds and other wildlife. Water is a precious resource for both humans and wildlife, and protecting our water is vitally important. Building rain gardens is one way both of these actions can be combined, and collectively can make a huge difference.
Wildcat Glades created a demonstration rain garden area on site and through grants has assisted 15 sites including schools, government buildings, and non-profit agencies in creating demonstration rain gardens. We continue to encourage individuals, businesses, and others to install rain gardens whenever possible.
Through plant choices and some pruning, they can look as formal or as “wild” as you’d like. They are colorful and require little maintenance! Instead of spending time fertilizing and killing weeds and insect pests, you can relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, right in your very own yard!