One New Yorker just demonstrated the incredible power that even a small rain garden has to stop flooding with a series of photos shared on Reddit.
The idea of a rain garden is simple: It’s an area that’s lower than the ground around it, so water will run into it when it rains. The plants there are chosen for their deep roots, which help the water soak into the soil quickly instead of collecting on top.
A feature like this is easy to include in a rural or suburban garden, where lots of clear space is available for any project the homeowner would like. It’s significantly harder on a paved street, but like the city dweller who brought wildflowers to a forgotten construction site in their hometown, this Redditor put in the effort.
“Our renegade street side rain garden doing what it’s supposed to,” they proclaimed, then shared pictures of the small but powerful garden.
The rain garden in the photos is arranged along the edge of a Brooklyn sidewalk, right next to a row of parked cars and surrounded by concrete and gutters. It’s only a few feet wide, with a couple dozen knee-high plants and a low ornamental fence that a child could step over.
Yet it does the trick. In the photos, the rain has flooded the street and would be flowing up onto the sidewalk, but instead it soaks into the soil of the rain garden, leaving the walkway clear.
“I note you’ve put little fences in so people will not trample,” said one commenter.
“Yeah, it helped a lot, but we have still had lots of unpleasant activity in there,” the original poster replied, recounting trash, vandalism, and even the theft of some plants.
But despite all that, the rain garden flourished. “The lushness of this garden is exceeding my expectations since we just started in like April,” the original poster said. “Before that it was just compacted dirt with nothing.”
“What all is in it?” asked another commenter. “They are soaking up all that nasty road water and saying ‘thank you sir, may I have another!’”
“Swamp milkweed, swamp rose, some kind of vervain, marigold, rudbeckia, the ground cover is a stone crop, yarrow, coreopsis, … goldenrods, boneset?” the original poster said. “We keep adding and it’s hard to keep track!”
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