Whether you’re out catching record fish, paddling a river or lake, wading a creek or just going about your business at home, it’s important to remember we all live downstream. No matter where you are in Tennessee, you’re close to a flowing stream…and what goes into one runs into the next. It’s all connected. Wild Side Guide Craig Owensby met some volunteers in Nashville who had that in mind when they started cleaning up an urban creek…without even going near the water. It’s Nashville’s Green Alley Project, where volunteers plant rain gardens along alleyways to help restore and sustain the health of waterways that were damaged with debris and erosion during historic flooding in May, 2010. The project also makes alleyways more walkable and safe.
The rain garden plantings will take place from March through May and again September through November, 2015. Click here if you are interested in volunteering. Nashville is funding the Green Alley project with the Cities of Service award of $35,000 it received in December for national achievement in impact volunteering and environmental sustainability efforts. A green alley uses green space along alleyways to capture and infiltrate storm water traveling off the alley, yards, houses and driveways to a nearby waterway with the goal to have zero runoff from residential properties along the alleys. Nashville’s project is unique in that it is focused on a residential neighborhood to engage people who live there to plant and maintain rain gardens in the neighborhood alleys.
It might not seem like a big thing, but each rain garden makes a difference. A rain garden is essentially a basin, a depression in the ground that is landscaped. The water that comes into the basin will stay there for the period of about a day, a day and a half, and it will slowly seep into the ground. Absorbing about 30% more water than a comparably sized section of conventional turf law, rain gardens can be as big or as small as you want them to be. Place them in an area where water naturally runs across the ground…just off of gutter downspouts are usually great locations, but make sure you stay 20 to 25 feet away from your house foundation. And when picking plants for your rain garden, go native. Native plants are more adapted to your climate, rainfall, and weather extremes. Swamp dogwoods, asters, swamp rose, lobelia, yellow twig dogwoods, and black-eyed susans are just of few of the many native plant options for Tennessee rain gardens.
If you’re interested in learning more about some simple things you can do around the house that can help maintain and protect our water supply, take a look at these Nature at Home segments: Rain Catchers and Water Conservation.
From show 2912