A rain garden is a perennial flower garden strategically located to capture runoff from rain that falls on parking lots, roofs, driveways and yards. A rain garden was installed along the east side of the Panorama West clubhouse parking lot June 10.
The idea of installing a demonstration rain garden was discussed at a Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors meeting a year ago. Derek Namanny, an urban conservationist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, began working with the group last fall. He visited Lake Panorama to look for possible rain garden locations, and found a good spot at Panorama West.
“A rain garden is a shallow bowl made in the landscape that is level from side to side and end to end,” Namanny said. “Rain gardens help reduce surface runoff and protect water quality. Runoff that travels to a rain garden is temporarily ponded, but it doesn’t stay ponded for long. Plants in the garden use the water, pollutants are filtered out, and the water percolates down through the soil, rather than running into streets and storm drains.”
An existing water drain on the east side of the Panorama West parking lot receives rainfall runoff. Namanny designed a garden that covers 500 square feet surrounding this drain.
The Lake Panorama Association provided site preparation assistance. Excavation was done before layers of rock, sand and soil were covered with a hardwood mulch. An erosion blanket was placed over the mulch to keep it from washing away. The blanket will biodegrade over the next three years, as the rain garden becomes established.
Holes were cut in the erosion blanket and the names of the 170 native plants, featuring a dozen different varieties, were marked on flags placed near the holes. The plants were placed around the garden area, and 15 volunteers, including several members of the Panora Garden Club, did the planting and watering.
Namanny was on hand to assist with the planting, and answer questions. "I see this as a pilot project to show how rain gardens work, and hopefully spur interest among others," he said. "Rain gardens can help solve rainfall runoff issues in lots of locations, since the water slows and absorbs into the ground, rather than just running off into the lake and nearby streams and rivers."
The cost of this rain garden project was estimated at $2,500. Last December, the Guthrie County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners approved an application from Friends for cost-share funding for the rain garden.
Friends of Lake Panorama collected some private funds for this project, but additional donations are welcome to help pay the cost of an informational sign, which has been ordered and will be installed sometime in July. Donations, with a note the funds are to be used for the rain garden, can be mailed to Friends at Box 488, Panora, Iowa, 50216.