Rain gardens help with water runoff, purification

Mary Ann Saul, of Lawrence, works at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, on a garden designed to help with stormwater runoff.

Two gardens at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds should limit stormwater runoff and assist with water purification.

“In the larger scheme of things, this won’t help in keeping the Kaw River from flooding,” said Bruce Chladny, horticulture agent for the Kansas State Research & Extension Office in Douglas County. “But it may keep storm drains from overflowing and eroding and prevent a wet spot for mosquitoes to breed in.”

Rain gardens assist with drainage problems in yards and preventing erosion and pollution. Chladny said the rain gardens at the fairgrounds held 2 to 3 inches of water. The water then filters through the ground.

Chladny and students in the Extension Office’s master gardener course designed the rain gardens on the fairgrounds earlier this year. The gardens were funded through a $5,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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Presentations will be made about the rain gardens at the Fall Garden Festival, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper.

“I think it will be interesting to watch the gardens as time goes by and learn what works and what needs to be different,” said Mary Ann Saul, who is a master gardener in Douglas County. “I think a rain garden is something that could help a lot of people with their yards.”

Rain gardens include plants able to withstand dry and wet weather, Chladny said. A variety of plants and flowers, including day lilies, butterfly milkweed and irises were used in the rain gardens at the fairgrounds.