Rain gardens along the roadsides in the County are springing to life—finally! What a strange winter and delayed spring. We’re seeing the fresh green shoots and spring flowers emerge in the Green Streets rain gardens that handle the dirty, polluted water from the streets.
Rain gardens filter polluted stormwater and send it back to our streams clean and clear. The more plants growing in rain gardens, the more water that gets cleaned. Stormwater planners are excited to see the plants bounce back after a long winter with road salt, sediment, and bacteria potentially risking the health of even the hardiest plants.
If you look closely at roadside rain gardens along streets in White Oak, Forest Estates, or Aspen Hill, you’ll notice that many of the plants are similar.
Common plants in roadside rain gardens include:
The above plants are chosen for specific places in Green Streets rain gardens, because they capture sediment, slow stormwater, or anchor the soil with roots. Rain garden plants also have to be able to handle extreme conditions, including road salt, polluted waters, frequent flooding, and extreme drought. Believe it or not, Green Streets rain gardens are often more dry, than they are wet, meaning that the plants have to be pretty hardy to survive periods without a regular source of water.
Look even closer and notice Green Streets rain gardens use plants native to the area—not only are they hardy, but they provide habitat for pollinators in the area, and blend in with our natural and urban areas.
As these rain gardens drain to the streams, the Department of Environmental Protection will focus on weeding and removing invasive plants from stormwater facilities. You’ll see crews through the summer, not only weeding, but cleaning sediment from the inlets and caring for plants. By then, the plants might be tall, but now is the time to check out the new spring growth, and watch the rain gardens change with the seasons!
For those of you who are students or parents, stay tuned for an upcoming blog just on Schools rain gardens.