Rain gardens for Florida
|Florida's 5-month wet season produces |
50% to 70% of annual rainfall. (Data from NOAA)
Too much rain or not enough
Florida's 5-month wet season (aka hurricane season), from June through October, accounts for almost 2/3 of our rainfall. In general, the more southern counties experience the more dramatic differences between their wet and dry seasons. In contrast, New York City's rainfall is more evenly distributed from about 3.5" to 4.5" each month.
Our weird patterns of rainfall help make the case for using Florida's native plants in our landscapes. Also we receive huge amounts of rain all at once on a regular basis. In most cases, all that excess water is rushed from our properties out to the streets where our stormwater then ends up in the nearest waterway. At that point it's no longer just water, but it will have collected pollutants from our landscapes and the streets. This is called nonpoint source pollution, which is not regulated and not monitored.
Nonpoint source pollution (NPS)
|In addition to rainfall, over-irrigation is a common cause of NPS in Florida.|
|Rainbows of pollution headed toward the nearest |
body of water.
The EPA webpages on NPS include definitions, solutions, success stories, outreach tools, information about grants, and events. One of the solutions that homeowners and communities can implement is rain gardens.
|The downspout delivered water to the lawn, which became|
a muddy, soggy mess throughout the wet season.
Rain gardens can be small like this downspout garden, which was expanded over a few years. First, I took out a few feet of lawn and created a small dry well by digging an 18" cube under where the tray dumps the water and filling it with coarse gravel topped in with some fake river rock I planted some blue eyed grass, soft rush, and some ferns in the area. A couple of years later I expanded it by digging a good sized swale beyond the original dry well and overflow drainage through a French drain to a larger dry well near our front pond.. You can see details of this effort in this series of posts.
|After a couple of expansions, this downspout rain gardens|
can handle any amount of rain.
|White-topped sedge (Rhynchospora colorata) is a beautiful addition to rain gardens.|
|The 2016 FNPS conference will be in Daytona Beach.|
After my talk I'll walk through the native plant vendors to talk in more detail about good rain garden plants and rain garden designs.
In addition, University Press of Florida will be a vendor for the conference and I'll be signing books during the lunch breaks on Friday and Saturday. I've dedicated whole chapters to rain gardens and rain barrels in "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," which include even more details and ideas for sequestering rain water on your property.
We all live in a watershed!