Seminar teaches value of rain gardens

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bright crepe myrtle blossoms from one end of town to the other signal that summer has reached its peak and we can start letting many of the plantings we’ve watered throughout the drought take care of themselves for the rest of the season.

True gardeners, though, are always looking for a new idea, different and better methods of using their land in the best way possible.

Local city planners, as well as gardeners, might be interested in attending the latest in a series of seminars on Tuesday sponsored by the Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership, Ironton In Bloom, and Ohio University Southern.

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The presenter is Carrie Yaniko, an urban and education specialist and a certified floodplain manager for the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District. Her subject will be “Rain Gardens”.

A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious (impenetrable by water) surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and compacted lawn areas the opportunity to be absorbed.

This reduces rain runoff by allowing storm water to soak into the ground (as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters which causes erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater).

A major purpose of a rain garden is to improve water quality in nearby bodies of water. Rain gardens can cut down on the amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams by up to 30 percent.

They can be beautiful as well as useful.

I’ve read that in Seattle a prototype project used to develop a plan for the entire city was constructed in 2003. It was a drastic facelift of a residential street.

The street was changed from a typical linear path to a gentle curve, narrowed, with large rain gardens placed along most of the length of the street. The street has 11 percent less impervious surface than a regular street.

There are 100 evergreen trees and 1,100 shrubs along this three-block stretch of road, and a two-year study found that the amount of storm water which leaves the street has been reduced by 98 percent!

Since storm water is a problem everywhere, I am sure there will be grant money available for these kinds of city projects. Whether you are involved in city planning, or you just have a soggy area in your yard that you would like to make more attractive, join Ms. Yaniko in the Rotunda Room of Riffe Center on the Ohio University Southern campus in Ironton (take the State Route 141 exit off U.S. 52) at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday.

She will inform you about the proper soil, plant selections, and drainage methods that go into creating a successful rain garden.

There is no admission charge. If you’d like more information, contact Eric Boyda at 740-534-6578, Carol Allen at 740-532-4495, or email


Judy Sanders is an Ironton resident and a volunteer with the Ironton In Bloom organization.