Before the 18th Street rain gardens in the western Washington town of Puyallup, roof runoff flowed into the street, picking up oil and other pollutants from the pavement before disappearing into a storm drain that flushed directly into the salmon stream. In a storm, it took just minutes for the creek to rise rapidly, causing erosion that covered gravel spawning beds with silt. Now, gutter water is channeled into the rain gardens, where plant roots and the spongy soil absorb the water over the next day or two, and the water trickles into the surrounding earth. It still moves toward the creek, but underground, so it stays clean and cold, keeping the fish happy.
To see the plant list for the garden shown here, click next.