Foodies get to drool over countless images online and in print of perfectly posed burgers, mouth-watering slices of pies, and other culinary treats. Now rain garden junkies and the bioretention-curious can indulge in inspiring photos and illustrations of green stormwater solutions in the newly released “Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington: A Guide for Design, Installation, and Maintenance.”
The handbook is a step-by-step guide on how to plan, build, plant, and maintain a smaller-scale rain garden. It explains how even a modest-sized rain garden will capture and treat significant amounts of polluted runoff that flow off rooftops and driveways.
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Suitable to an experienced landscaper or even a novice, the guide provides straightforward instructions in layman’s terms and lots of images to illustrate what’s being discussed. The handbook also answers questions and fears about rain gardens, including the persistent worry about standing water and mosquitoes (well-designed rain gardens drain in one to three days, the guide explains, and mosquitoes go from egg to adult in four or more days).
The author, Curtis Hinman of Washington State University’s Puyallup stormwater center, takes pains to spell out exactly where rain gardens should and should not go (steep slopes, 10 feet from a building foundation, and directly above buried utilities are among the no-nos). He gives a variety of suggestions for designs of gardens, and concludes with an appendix featuring images and names of plants well suited to rain gardens.
The handbook left me with the overall impression that a rain garden would be a bigger DIY project than I would want to take on by myself, though as the mom of a busy preschooler I’m less bold in that arena than I once was. But it offers a great blueprint for a community project, and it could be a useful tool for a homeowner working with an engineer or landscaper to help them better understand the mechanics of a rain garden. It would also be a terrific template for someone outside the Northwest who would like to create a guidebook tailored to their specific region.
Such a solid tool for expanding the use of rain gardens is most welcome and timely. Also this week, the US Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada released their “Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report,” a report card on the waters of Puget Sound and some of the inland waters in British Columbia. The report scores “marine water quality” as being in decline, particularly in terms of low oxygen levels found in local marine waters.
The EPA/Environment Canada study includes tips for residents and businesses eager to help recover the health of the Salish Sea. The No. 1 recommendation for improving water quality?
“Use beneficial landscaping techniques such as rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs and permeable paving to help reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and reduce runoff into ditches and storm drains.”
I like the subject-matter, but why do we have to refer to something that is nicely illustrated as porn?
Hi Emmett –
It’s a play on “food porn,” which is used in reference to the myriad images online and in glossy magazines of beautifully displayed food. I think that magazines like Sunset offer something similar in the world of landscapes and gardens. Maybe the reference doesn’t work in this case, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see how people responded. Thanks for the feedback!
Personally, I’m getting quite tired of it, and would like to see it exit our lexicon of discussimg beauty.
Nicely written and a very catchy title Lisa – should bring in a lot of new readers. The Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington also fills an important regulatory niche. The Department of Ecology recognizes this in it’s 2012 Western Washington Stormwater Manual as the go to guide for rain garden design, installation and maintenance. This will be useful for jurisdictions implementing newly revised NPDES municipal stormwater permits that require the use of Low Impact Development practices such as rain gardens in new and retrofit construction projects. The handbook has great photos, plant lists and how to tips as you have noted, and it establishes all new sizing criteria using visual rainfall charts and tables for Western Washington locations. Rain garden manuals throughout the United States were consulted in its development, and the technical advisory team labored several months in its development. Printed copies should hit the street by the end of August. Thank you again for another fine article.
Should bring in some new readers that were looking for porn. ;^)
Or Foodies looking for photos of hot dogs.
Have to agree with Emment on the title – this is getting flagged as spam at government agencies for potentially inappropriate content. I’d love to share this with other municipalities that are trying to replicate the PNW’s good work, but I’m hesitant to get folks in trouble. Clever, perhaps, but limiting your audience….
The word “porn” will prevent your article from being downloaded at public libraries, schools, and other public institutions as well as homes that use a filter to protect their children.
Emmett’s nailed it and your tepid response was weak. Look, if the guide is so fantastic, it will sell itself. Sad to see a professional (esp. a woman) stoop so low to use the p+*n term. I’m not recommending it until the title changes.
Hi, Tom. I plan to change the title to help avoid the spam blockers and child protection applications (though the vast majority of our readers are adults), not to comply with a sex-negative preference or prescriptive (“especially a professional woman”) recommendation. Thank you for reading.
I applaud you!
If every downspout in the Thornton Creek Basin were paired with a raingarden, and every street retrofited with bioretention facilities (like SEAstreet), Thornton Creek would be transformed from the dirtiest creek in the Puget Sound Basin to one of the cleanest.
That’s so lovely to imagine! Would it still work with say 75 percent of the houses having rain gardens, and half the streets retrofit?