Got Green? October Garden of the Month
The South River Federation is highlighting deserving gardens once a month—do you have a lovely rain garden? Have you recently added rain barrels or other eco-friendly enhancements to your home?
“I can’t tell you how excited he was to do this!” Lara Mulvaney, a certified Master Watershed Steward, said as we walked over to her neighbor, Jerry Klinken’s, house. Lara had nominated Jerry’s new rain garden for the first South River Federation’s “Got Green Project of the Month.”
Jerry first got the idea of doing a rain garden from a residential assessment workshop for stormwater hosted by Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy. Then, when Jerry heard that the South River Federation was offering grants to Watershed Stewards, like Lara Mulvaney, for community projects, such as rain gardens, he had the encouragement he needed to start.
He selected an area of his Davidsonville backyard where he was tired of having to cut and edge the ugly grass and where there was an existing storm water runoff problem. He wanted to “address the drainage issue in an effective way.”
Severn Grove Ecological Design helped design the basic rain garden layout and dug the shallow basin which would eventually capture and infiltrate all the rain from his entire back roof. Jerry and Lara worked together to pick out the plants best suited for his beautiful garden.
As a “do-it-yourself” worker, Jerry laid out the stones and planted all the plants in his new 1400-square-foot rain garden himself. The plants were purchased from the large selection at Davidsonville Nursery. A do it yourself rain garden typically costs around $4 a square foot while hiring a contractor can cost up to $8 a square foot.
The new rain garden was finished just in time to be put to the test. Not too long after it was completed, Hurricane Irene came through followed by Tropical Storm Lee. The garden stood up to Irene like a champ by draining half of the eight inches overnight, but it did overflow during Lee, which was classified as a 100-year storm.
This just highlights the importance of monitoring your rain garden very closely after any storm until you get the feel for how well it performs. Once the garden becomes well established, occasional weeding and mulching are the only maintenance required to ensure that the garden continues to function properly.
Why did he do it? Jerry said, that he doesn’t think people understand the problem that erosion and runoff can have on the Chesapeake Bay. He put in the rain garden because “everyone can do something.”
His advice for other homeowners? His advice for other homeowners? Contact your local Master Watershed Steward for help. Visit www.aawsa.org or contact Lara Mulvaney, firstname.lastname@example.org, to help find the Steward closest to you.
Do research about rain gardens before starting your project and make sure you understand how well your soil drains, how much storm water the rain garden will need to absorb, and the amount of ongoing maintenance that is required. Rain gardens not only serve environmental purposes, but also attract birds and butterflies and are a beautiful addition to your yard.
Jerry has implemented many other eco-friendly practices throughout his property. Most recently, he completed an energy audit, which is eligible for rebates. As a result, insulation was added and ducts were sealed reducing leakage by 83 percent, making his house considerably more energy efficient. Working in the solar energy business, Jerry also has solar photovoltaic and hot water panels on his roof.
Excess solar hot water is also used to help heat his greenhouse and hot tub. The house has been heated and cooled by energy efficient geothermal since it was built in 1985. He is also working towards turning his property into a natural habitat. Other features include a greenhouse, 350 gallon cistern, rain barrels, and an organic garden.
View more pictures, including before and after shots, of the garden on Jerry's website.
Thank you Jerry for making so many aspects of your home eco-friendly! Got green at your home? Tell us about it and you could be the next “Got Green Project of the Month!”