Rain Gardens and Wetlands

Wetlands - Wonders Worth Saving

Have you ever visited a wetland, where land and water join to form a pretty amazing habitat? There are different kinds of wetlands - some are full of water year-round, while others burst into life only after it rains. But all are filled with wildlife, from secretive birds to dragonflies that hover like helicopters.

Native Americans called these areas "between lands," neither water nor land. Today we appreciate wetlands for their natural beauty and habitat for wildlife and fascinating birds like the Great Blue Heron (left), which strikes like lightning when unsuspecting fish swim by.

Wetlands are very important for wildlife. These ecosystems provide homes, foods, and nesting and migration areas for birds and other wildlife, including 43 percent of our nation's threatened or endangered species - animals and plants that are nearly extinct.

A wetland acts as a natural water-treatment plant, cleaning water by filtering it through its plant life. Wetlands soak up heavy rains like a sponge, reducing flooding and erosion during storms.

How Does A Rain Garden Grow?

A rain garden acts like a miniature wetland. It helps to filter water from your roof, your driveway, and your lawn before it flows into your local watershed. That water then makes its way to your local river stream or creek.

They also help to:

  • Remove storm water runoff from our sanitary sewer system
  • Keep waterways clean by filtering water runoff before it enters local streams, rivers, lakes & ponds
  • Reduce the frequency and severity of periodic flooding
  • Recharge the ground water supply
  • Increase habitat and food for native wildlife
  • Enhance the beauty of yards and communities

Down the Drain? Use Your Brain!

After an especially hard rain, do the streets in your neighborhood or nearest town sometimes flood? Where does that water go to make the streets safe for riding your bike again? Most of it, of course, goes down the drain-specifically a storm drain. Storm drains are artificial. Nature, however, has its own storm drains: wetlands! During and after storms, a wetland soaks up extra water like a sponge. During the weeks following storms, a wetland releases the extra water into rivers and streams. Artificial storm drains sometimes empty into rivers and streams, too. What do you suppose would happen if liquids other than water - such as motor oil or house paint-were poured down a storm drain?