Lifestyle

Rain gardens: Federal Way explores eco-friendly idea

A rain garden installed with the help of Stewardship Partners is nearly complete. The garden catches pollutants in water run-off before it reaches the storm drains and local waterways.  - Courtesy of Stewardship Partners
A rain garden installed with the help of Stewardship Partners is nearly complete. The garden catches pollutants in water run-off before it reaches the storm drains and local waterways.
— image credit: Courtesy of Stewardship Partners

Eco-friendly gardeners and plant enthusiasts are invited to learn how to create a rain garden.

Rain gardens are gardens that capture water runoff and the harmful pollutants it carries. The City of Federal Way will host a free rain garden workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 26 at City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S. The workshop is held in partnership between the City of Federal Way, Friends of the Hylebos and Stewardship Partners.

"Rain gardens are the next big thing," said Margery Godfrey, Friends of the Hylebos Board President.

The gardens offer landscaping, but are also beneficial to the environment. They soak up pollutants that could otherwise end up in local waterways. The pollutants are picked up when rain water flows over impervious surfaces, such as roofs, driveways and streets, or through areas that have been treated with pesticides. The water is directed into the garden, where it avoids flowing into stormwater drains, which flow into streams, wetlands, lakes and the Puget Sound.

Rain gardens are also used to reduce flooding and erosion. They provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The plants placed in a rain garden are native species. These can include salmon berry, snow berry, various grasses and maple trees, said Lili Allala, Friends of the Hylebos Restoration Coordinator. The plants must be watered like a typical garden for the first two years while they take root, she said. After that, the rain water runoff does all the work.

The garden workshop is being offered as a public education and outreach event. Typically, through the city's storm water management, a green nature-scaping class is offered. Due to the recent popularity of rain gardens, the partners thought a workshop on how to create such a garden would be received well.

So far, approximately 40 individuals have shown an interest in the workshop, Allala said. Reservations can be made at (253) 874-2005 or lili@hylebos.org. RSVPs will be taken until the day prior to the event.

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