Easy Being Green

After working on the June Iowa Alumni Magazine feature “A Green Edge,” I started to think about what I could do to be “greener” in everyday life. I decided to try a rain garden, like the UI Press example featured in that article.

Rain GardenI found some helpful sites online, including this one: http://www.rainscapingiowa.org. The most difficult part of the project entailed calculating the size and location of the rain garden. We had to juggle the need to avoid gas and utility lines with the desire for an aesthetically pleasing garden. After putting sticks in the ground to outline the garden, my husband dug a small hole to do a percolation test.  This crucial test indicates how the soil retains water and whether amendments are needed to improve its drainage. We’ve been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with rain every few days this summer, so it didn’t take long to discover that water drains well on our land.

The next step was to dig a bigger hole and refine the garden’s shape. Then, a City of Coralville engineer came out to check our progress—and recommended that we make the hole even larger! He based his advice on a formula that takes into consideration the size of our house roof and how much water will drain into the garden.  

After the extra digging, we need to add berms and then fill the garden with soil amended with compost and sand. Then we can shop for some native grasses and flowers that don’t mind their feet being wet. That’s the fun part for me, as I’m interested in making sure the garden looks great. My husband is all about the heavy lifting and ensuring the garden functions correctly. We make a great team!

I’ll update you when our rain garden is complete. Our inspiration was a story from Iowa Alumni Magazine. Keep reading our blog and magazine to see what else might be your inspiration.
 
LeaAnn Randall Henry
Art Director
leaann-henry@uiowa.edu

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