Recently, I kept hearing about “rain gardens,” and how they could be used in the Town of Sewall’s Point to help the Indian River Lagoon. I kept nodding my head, but I really had no idea what they were. A “garden for rain” obviously, but nonetheless, no image would crystallize in my mind.
After a field trip with UF IFAS extension office representative (http://martin.ifas.ufl.edu) Mr Fred Burkey to the Hoke Library, I now know. So today, I am going to share with you about a very cool, beautiful, and useful thing Martin County and others are promoting to help our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and waterways across our nation.
The idea of a rain garden is to hold water and filter it before it enters our waterways and if everyone held just a “little bit” of water it could make a very big difference. In most circumstances today’s drainage is designed to “roll off the land” as fast as possible, and is directed to a gutter or pipe which leads to a body of water. There is little filtration so all the pollutants go directly into the “river.”
Mr Burkey is an expert and professional on the subject of water, but still it was amusing to be working with him on water ideas for the Town of Sewall’s Point, as in the early years of my life he was my neighbor….
He and his wife Jackie, live across the street from my parents in Indialucie, Sewall’s Point. I lived across from the Burkey family from 10 years old until I was 18. The Burkeys have four kids and we all grew up together. Mr Burkey was always “Mr Burkey.” But the day of the rain garden it was “adult to adult.”
My morning went something like this:
“Ding dong” went the door bell and Mrs Burkey answered the door.
“Hello Mrs Burkey . Is Mr Burkey here please? We are supposed to look at a rain garden…”
“Call me Jackie please. Fred! Jacqui’s here!” she yelled into the kitchen.
He came to the door.
“Hello Mr Burkey.”
“By gosh, Call me Fred! You are making me feel old…”
So after a quick conversation and being told to call Mr and Mrs Burkey by their first names, something I was trained never to do as a kid, “Fred” and I got in my car and made our way to the Hoke Library in Jensen. As I mentioned, Fred works for IFAS, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and in coordination with the Dainne Hughes at Martin County, he is promoting rain gardens. He was my guide.
Once we arrived and I got out of the car, it all finally made sense because I “could see.”
Fred explained that a rain garden is meant to filter water coming from impervious surfaces. In the case of the Hoke Library, they took an area that had very heavy gutter runoff, put rocks right at the base of the gutter, dug out the earth for a distance of about 50 feet, to hold and filter the water, planted native and Florida Friendly plants to help with filtering , and then put a berm around the area.
Here are some pictures of the Hoke’s rain garden to help you envision what a rain garden can look like.
A rain garden is a relatively easy and inexpensive thing to do.
When I got home and started looking at Sewall’ Point I could now see there are many areas where the water just runs off houses and buildings onto driveways and dirty streets into the river. Could we create a shallow area with native plants to hold, clean and filter that water? I’m sure we could.
We can all help in little ways to improve our rivers. Together, it is a big way. Take a look at your yard please. Hopefully, you see a rain garden in your future!
Story TC Palm Rain Garden Hoke Library, Jensen: (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/martin-county/news-briefs/rain-garden-installed-at-hoke-library_84402096)