Rain gardens provide many benefits to nature and local communities.
Rain gardens do more than provide natural protection for communities, they bring people together.
The Nature Conservancy has led rain garden installations at several sites in New Jersey. One, in the town of Millville in Cumberland County, was tackled by a team made up of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office, Citizens United for the Protection of the Maurice River, Cumberland County Master Gardeners and the City of Millville, in addition to Millville residents and Conservancy staff.
The group worked for two days under bright sun, grading land, preparing soil, digging holes, planting flowers, mulching and watering a 1,000 square foot rain garden in the uphill portion of Joe Buck Park, located near the town’s public library.
The completed rain garden captures that water and protects the river.
It also provides habitat for native pollinators, is a focal point of civic pride in the community and beautifies the landscape, with potential to improve property values by making a perceived “eyesore” area more attractive.
Recognizing and promoting all the benefits of rain gardens is important, because communities have different needs. In Millville, the potential to enhance property values was the catalyst for city officials to fast-track the project; in Camden, another city we’ve worked in, the motivation was to combat an aging sewer system that backed up raw waste into children’s playgrounds with as little as half an inch to one of rainfall. In either case, rain gardens have proven an elegant part of the solution.
Every day Millville residents pass by the little rain garden oasis, they are reminded that nature and community working together can have benefits well beyond expectations. It seems incredible, but it is true, that a humble patch of nature can protect neighborhoods, safeguard water supplies and create civic pride.