Experts say rain gardens can help protect our waterways

Rain gardens, which are similar to the average garden but are maintained using stormwater runoff, are becoming a popular way to filter pollutants and conserve water.

About 20 people attended the Shoreham Garden Club’s monthly meeting Saturday at the Shoreham Village Country Club where Mark Cappellino of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, located in Riverhead, gave a presentation on why rain gardens are an important tool to help protect waterways.

“Basically, what you’re doing is taking [stormwater runoff] and directing it into an area where plants are,” he said.

Homeowners and local municipalities are interested in using rain gardens as an alternative way to deal with stormwater runoff, the number one cause of water pollution, Mr. Cappellino said.

Water that runs off of imperious surfaces, such as rooftops, roads and parking lots, picks up pollutants before descending into nearby waterways.

Through the creation of a rain garden, stormwater runoff is typically redirected 10-feet from a gutter’s downspout and onto a gravel path leading to a rain garden, which maintains water through a deep depression dug out from underneath the vegetation.

Water collected in the depression will also help keep lawns moist and, therefore, less water will be needed to keep them green, Mr. Cappellino said.

Shoreham Garden Club president Diana Fuchs said her group is interested in creating rain gardens throughout Shoreham Village because many homes and buildings in the area are located on the shoreline where stormwater runoff enters into Long Island Sound.

“We’re looking for alternatives and rain gardens are a beautiful fix to these problems,” she said.

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