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Consider installing a few rain gardens
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Storm water is usually we all don't think too much about on a day-to-day basis. When it is usually thought of, we all want it to be carried away off our streets and away from our homes.

But there is something that can be done with all this excess water that comes to us after a spring storm. Put it to good use by building a rain garden in your landscape.

Rain gardens are shallow and help slow down water flow before the water gets to our creeks and ultimately to Lake Lanier. Rain gardens also absorb some of the water so they help reduce runoff and flooding risk. One thing to keep in mind is that rain gardens are not water gardens. They are designed to hold a small amount of water for just a couple of days. That way, mosquitoes do not become a problem.

When trying to find the right placement for a rain garden in your landscape you have to "think" like water. Find your naturally occurring drainage areas.

"Rain gardens must be downstream of where the runoff begins, so place your rain garden in lower areas where water will naturally move," said Sheryl Wells, a storm water specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Rain gardens also should be placed away from septic tanks and septic field lines. Excess water infiltrating your septic system will shorten its life and cost your lots of money to repair.

The soil in your rain garden should be loose and allow water to infiltrate easily. If your soil is typical of North Georgia, being that it is Georgia red clay, you may need to add some compost to improve the texture of the soil. Also adjust the size of the garden; larger size for soils that do not drain too fast and a smaller size if your soil allows the water to drain quickly.

Trees and perennial plants can be used in your garden. Use a mix of wet- and drought-tolerant trees, shrubs perennials and ornamental grasses. For a listing of suggested rain garden plants, see the UGA rain garden publication online at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.

Michael Wheeler is the Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994. Email wheelerm@uga.edu.

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