306. Rain Gardens/Water Conservation

In Bartholdi Park, when you see a long depression in the ground—or what looks like a sloping ditch—you are looking at a rain garden. There are 13 of these in Bartholdi Park, and they are here for a specific reason: to control rain runoff. 

Rain gardens are designed to catch rainwater and allow it to seep into the soil. They collect all of the rain that falls in the park. Over 4,000 cubic feet of water, the equivalent of 256 bathtubs, can be channeled into the soil of the park at any one time.

Rain gardens use soil mixtures that don’t retain water, but instead allow it to quickly pass through to layers farther below the surface. We grow plants in these gardens that can withstand being temporarily waterlogged and can also survive in very dry conditions. 

Like many other older cities, Washington has a combined sewer system for waste and storm water that is easily overwhelmed in heavy storms, resulting in overflow being dumped into local waterways. This contributes to the pollution of freshwater resources that drain into Chesapeake Bay. Rain gardens divert rainwater away from the District’s storm water system, and that helps reduce pollution.

At home, consider installing a rain garden, or use barrels to catch rainwater from your gutters to water the yard.

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