Girl Scouts are building rain gardens, or planted depressions filled with native plants that capture and absorb storm water and serve as functional gardens. The girls, with their families and friends, will learn about, construct, and maintain rain gardens at schools, homes, and other sites in their communities. The project will:
- Improve water quality by infiltration, reducing water-born pollutants running into streams, rivers, and other water supplies
- Increase green space and wildlife habitats
Building a rain garden takes some planning, but the effort is well worth it!
- Learn more about rain gardens by checking out some of the resources on the GSUSA page to learn more about rain gardens. Consult with rain garden experts at local horticultural societies; master gardener groups; botanical gardens; and local, state, and federal natural resource agencies. Additional Paris/IDF specific links will be added soon!
- Locate a good place for your rain garden. Make sure it's:
- At least 10 feet from a house or building
- Away from the top of a septic system
- On a gentle slope that catches downspout water
- In the sun
- Test the soil. Soils vary greatly in fertility, drainage, and pH rating—it's best to put in a garden suitable to your local conditions.
- Test your drainage by digging a hole 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Pour a bucket of water into it, and see how long it takes to sink in. The water should go down an inch per hour. If it takes longer than that, you will need to do additional site preparation to improve infiltration.
- Prepare the site by adding peat moss, compost, or sand based on the type of plants you want to plant and the soil that already exists in the garden area; adjust the depth to create a dip in the middle where the water will collect.
- Very important: Contact your local authority to mark utility lines prior to digging.
- The lowest area, which will be the wettest zone (usually a depth of 6 inches), will contain plants that tolerate a lot of water.
- Choose native plants based on the soil type (sand, clay, etc.) Plants with deep, fibrous roots provide the most cleaning and filtration benefits. Success is greater when you start with small, healthy plants. They adapt to the conditions as they grow.
- Visually inspect the garden, and repair for erosion as needed.
- Water as needed.
- Weed regularly.
- Remove and replace dead and diseased vegetation.
- Replace mulch as needed.
- Make a sign for your Girl Scouts Forever Green rain garden that says, "Maintained by _____."
- Review the ties to the Girl Scouts National Program Portfolio for specific Rain Gardens-related Journey activities.
- Rain gardens are planted depressions filled with native plants that capture and absorb storm water and serve as functional gardens.
- Rain gardens don't need to be fertilized or sprayed, only weeded and mulched.
- Rain gardens don't breed mosquitoes because they are shallow and built on soil with sufficient drainage; they'll dry out before mosquitoes can reproduce.
- Rain gardens reduce the amount of lawn you have to maintain and makes your yard a healthier place for children and pets.
- Rain gardens are lovely landscaping features.
- Rain garden plants create wildlife habitats by attracting butterflies, birds, and other creatures.
- A rain garden on your property or in your community makes you part of a solution to storm water pollution. Rain gardens can potentially absorb hundreds of gallons of rain that would otherwise wash pollution down the street and into the nearest river, stream, or lake. Even small rain gardens can absorb a lot of rain.
Miracle Mile A Place for Global Kids to Create the Future
Will will be updating the resources available in Paris/IDF shortly.