Rain Gardens and Bioswales
Rain gardens and bioswales are a couple of “rainscaping” practices that infiltrate or capture storm water which improves water quality and reduces runoff. Both practices use plant materials suited for the climate and site (native plant materials are commonly used), which is modified to collect the runoff from the lawn, rooftop, parking lot so that the soil and the root systems within in it absorbs most of the normal rain events into the ground. By definition rain gardens do not require significant grading and excavation – although a flat-bottomed structure is created with a short dike to retain the water long enough to be infiltrated. Bioswales imply that soil excavation and changing the soil profile in the area is needed in order to allow the water to infiltrate. Typically these practices are installed on residential and small to moderate sized commercial sites.
An excellent resource about rain gardens in Iowa can be found online at the Iowa Storm Water Education Program. Several Trees Forever Staff have assisted in designing and installing rain gardens and may be able to offer assistance to your project and connect you with funding opportunities.