Rain Gardens and Native Plants

If you live in Ames, have you wondered about the “weedy looking” lot next to the Ames Public Library? 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 down 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 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.

Think about what rain water will do if it falls on this

slowing run off

instead of this


Hmmm, I thought I had a better example of a closely cropped lawn, but you get the idea, right?!

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…

rain gardensAPL rain garden

I also love the Ames Public Library wild area because it reminds me that I’m not in Anywhere, USA, I’m Iowa, a state the was once over 80% prairie!

2 thoughts on “Rain Gardens and Native Plants”

  1. that was interesting. I’d never heard of a rain garden.

    ps- I was in Poland for about 25 hours but didn’t see your son… next time maybe??? 🙂

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