Rain that falls on your home and yard, when captured, is a free and local supply of water that can save you money and help stretch Contra Costa Water District’s limited water supply. Each gallon you capture and use on your property is a gallon saved in local storage for another day. And you can capture thousands of gallons over an average winter. In fact, one inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof is more than 620 gallons of water! Contra Costa County averages approximately 20 inches of rain per year. So, a 1,000 sq. ft. roof can capture roughly 12,400 gallons per year.
What if you could capture this rainwater for a low cost without installing a gigantic cistern and having to find a place to put it? Thankfully, you can capture a fair amount of this rainwater by installing a rain garden. A rain garden moves rainwater collected from your roof, hardscape, or driveway through drains or shallow natural trenches to low areas in your garden, such as a swale. A swale is a sunken channel with gently sloping sides. This allows the water enough time to soak into the soil instead of running off your property and down the storm drain. The soil beneath your garden is like a giant sponge, storing water for your plants and reducing the amount you need to run your sprinklers or drip irrigation during the summer.
If saving water and money on your utility bill isn’t a good enough reason to install a rain garden, consider these rain garden benefits:
- Promotes groundwater replenishment
- Reduces pollutants from reaching local creeks
- Slows stormwater runoff which reduces creek erosion
- Adds an aesthetic landscape feature with many planting and design possibilities
- Plants used in rain gardens can promote native habitat and provide food sources for hummingbirds, butterflies, and honeybees
A rain garden, when combined with drought-tolerant and water-wise plants, could mean you’ll rarely need to turn on your irrigation. Also, outdoor irrigation is not needed 48 hours after measurable rainfall. So, are you ready to reduce your summer irrigation watering bill and install a rain garden? Learn more about how to get started with rain gardens. So go on. Get your swale on!