If you live in Ames, have you wondered about the “weedy looking” lot next to the Ames Public Library? (2018 update: this is no longer there due to the library expansion)
I stopped by there to take some photos last Saturday. My understanding is that it is an example of a rain garden, planted for the purpose of slowing water runoff during hard rains.
Remember the flooding of 2008 in Iowa? Some blame the changing landscape that has eliminated “weedy looking” areas, but these examples of native planting alternatives to traditional lawn grass are much better at catching rain water, holding it, and keeping it from running and collecting in such a way that increases flooding.
People usually keep lawns, parks and highway landscaping mowed. Shorter grass means faster runoff. Another thing a lot of people never think of: when you mow frequently, the heavy equipment will compact the soil, making it harder and harder over the years and less able to absorb rainwater.
If you visit our library, take a few minutes to escape to the prairie, walk the little path, run your hand through the fresh smelling sage, chatter with the wasps, bees and butterflies and think about the rain, where it comes from, where it goes…