Update on Edmonds

The Beneficial Beauty of Rain Gardens

By now, you must have heard of a Rain Garden…right? Maybe you know a family member, friend or a neighbor who has one. However, have you seriously considered putting one in yourself? What do you actually know about them? The beneficial beauty of rain gardens is essentially to the benefit our water quality and community and look good in doing it!
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Rain gardens are typically constructed from six to twelve inches deep and back filled with sandy-soils and mulch. This backfill prevents the quick release of excess pollutant-laden runoff into our local watersheds and eventually Puget Sound. Therefore, well-designed and strategically placed rain gardens reduce runoff, erosion and flooding, while filtering pollutants that are otherwise carried into our local waterbodies such as Lake Ballinger, Good Hope Pond and Shell Creek amongst others.




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In addition, your sustainable and aesthetically pleasing rain garden will look amazing as it matures and you personalize the plantings with native flora and hardy cultivars to suit your taste as it creates excellent habitat for our natural pollinators such as birds, butterflies and bees. Beautiful gardens that protect our ecosystem…now that is flower power! 


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  (A New rain garden being installed in the Seaview neighborhood, September 2019)


Why do we need rain gardens? Simply put, we need ways to reduce excess polluted runoff. As Edmonds continues to develop as a community, the increase of solid impervious surface also grows. These solid surfaces during rain events shuttle this stormwater runoff from our roofs, parking lots and roads into the municipal stormwater system, which discharges untreated into Puget Sound. With more and more frequent storms (and larger storms!), these water flows can ultimately contain more runoff than what the stormwater system can handle and is designed for. In Washington State, stormwater pollution also contributes to 30 percent of the pollution in waters that have pollution issues.






(City of Edmonds owned rain garden at 104th Ave W. and 238th St. SW)
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So consider a rain garden a personal contribution to your community. They can be a great homeowner designed contribution to mimic the natural absorption and pollutant removal abilities of a forest or meadow. An individual rain garden may seem like a small thing but imagine if that one rain garden inspired your neighbors to also install one, and so on. Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff. Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens also allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground. Collectively, we are already seeing the neighborhood environmental benefits in Edmonds from these clusters of rain gardens and similar low impact development techniques.
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Can I install a rain garden myself? Absolutely! Installing a rain garden is a task that any homeowner who has a little extra time and the will to do so can do! Many homeowners can finish a small rain garden in one weekend. A little guidance can go a long way though and there is a bunch of great resources to help you navigate along the way. You can get started by contacting me if you were thinking of a larger project or maybe you just have some questions whether a rain garden is right for you. Have a look at these other valuable links to get a better understanding and some inspiration.

·  WSU Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington
·  Snohomish Conservation District
·  12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound


Patrick Johnson (City of Edmonds Stormwater Engineering Technician) | pat.johnson@edmondswa.gov or 425-771-0220

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