RainScaping Solves Leisure World’s Ponding Problem
The “Mutual Eleven” Condominium Association in Leisure World had badly waterlogged garden areas. Clayey soils would not allow rainfall to infiltrate, and as a result any rainfall event resulted in standing water and ponding. Residents complained about the ugly standing water and said it even affected outdoor air conditioning units.
At a seminar held by staff members of the Department of Environment Protection of Montgomery County, Darlene Hamilton, president of the Condominium Association, learned about RainScaping as a way to soak in rainfall into the ground using vegetation in a porous soil mixture bed. She got knowledgeable contractors on board to install a landscaping system to capture and control rainfall runoff on the common landscaped areas of the condominium using RainScaping techniques. Along a sloping areas adjacent to the low-level garden, she put in a mix of native plants which have deep tap roots that take water from the surface deeper into the ground.
Then, the low-lying problem ponding areas were excavated and the soil there replaced with a porous soil mixture to create a more permeable media. Native plants and beautiful perennials were planted to create a beautiful raingarden. Today the raingarden is blooming and is a picture of environmental harmony: plants such as milkweed and joe pye weed attract butterflies and bees which are important pollinators and the garden does not require chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. And importantly, a beautiful river rock pathway through the yard–which was once a river of mud and water–allows residents to enjoy their blooming yard.
By absorbing rainfall this raingarden is helping to save the Northwest Branch stream (which flows into the Anacostia River), by controlling some of the stormwater runoff that flushes through it carrying urban pollutants during rainfall events. Such large pulses of stormwater runoff destroy local streams by scouring out stream beds, cutting back banks, exposing roots of trees along the banks, and depositing trash.
You can find out how to install a raingarden on your property and get technical and financial assistance to do so, by visiting the resources at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rainscapes.