With all the rains that come anymore, it is great to know that there is a natural, efficient, cost-effective and pretty way to help save your pastures and reduce storm water runoff. Rain gardens are a beautiful, inexpensive and long-lasting way to better protect the pastures, around the barns and around your home. Regardless of where you live in the country (and world), this method of water and pasture protection can do incredible things to help protect your pastures from erosion and wearing away AND beautify your property.
I have been to beautiful farms that suffered from massive pasture erosion due to runoff coming from the road. Constructing a rain garden where the rain begins into a pasture would not only make for a beautiful place to be seen from the road, it could also potentially eliminate the runoff that causes the extreme erosion into the paddock each year.
What is a rain garden, you ask? Rain gardens are shallow depressions that utilize specifically placed, deep-rooted native plants and grasses to help decrease and purify storm water runoff. The benefits for farms go well beyond just helping to improve water quality. A rain garden mimics the natural absorption and pollutant removal activities of a forest, meadow or a large, grassy pasture with shrubbery; it can absorb as much as 30 to 40% more runoff than a standard lawn. Capturing rainwater in a rain garden holds the water for a short time, allowing it to be slowly released into the soil, reducing the rush coming from a large storm – quickly, neatly and naturally. It can either be started in a dug “depression”, or in a natural depression area where rain normally puddles.
This is a very good EPA web site to start to learn more about rain gardens. Explanations as to what a rain garden is, how it can improve water quality and descriptions on how to design and build a garden (as well as varieties of plants to use) can be found on these sites. And did you know that rain gardens are just the start? Planting trees and shrubs can also absorb as much as fourteen times more rainwater than simply having a lawn, so planting them is another easy, pretty and highly effective solution. https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-gardens
This year, if you have the reoccurring problem of getting your pastures washed away, consider putting in a rain garden, or planting more trees and shrubs. It might be just the thing needed to help stop runoff, help purify storm water, eliminate or cut down erosion and leave your farm looking more beautiful than ever!
Author: Jamie Wallace
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