This week I attended a introductory class to rain gardens, sponsored by Blue Thumb. The Dakota County Blue Thumb initiative is a partnership of the Cities of AppleValley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Lakeville, Hastings, Mendota Heights, Vermillion River Watershed, Friends of the Mississippi River, Dakota County Water Resources, and Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District. It’s goal is to create better water quality by using nature and plantings to absorb water runoff in our neighborhoods and along our shorelines.

I had never seen rain gardens implemented until now, and they are a wonderful idea. A Rain garden is a garden that forms a depression in the ground. It is filled with perennials, wildflowers, and shrubs that don’t mind some water. Rain gardens take in water during a rain, and help water to be reclaimed naturally, instead of running into sewers and our Minnesota lakes, rivers, and streams.

The city of Burnsville recently did a study on the use of rain gardens in one of the neighborhoods surrounding Crystal Lake. Areas of the curbs were cut out to let water run into the rain gardens, and once each garden was full, the water was allowed to flow back into the street, making its way to the next rain garden. The project has been a huge success, one which other towns throughout the Twin Cities should look into implementing.

If you haven’t thought about a rain garden before, you should really think of it as a good way to take water from your roof, and put it back into the ground, the natural way. We just moved into our new home, and I am talking with a landscape designer about putting a rain garden in our yard.