Decatur: We Need More Rain Gardens!

The Atlantic Cities blog has a really interesting post this morning based on the successful rain garden programs in Portland, Oregon (“the dream of the 90’s is alive…”) and around Washington D.C.  The post has a rather emphatic title “Why Every City Should be Planting Rain Gardens” and after reading it, it’s hard to disagree.

Rain gardens seem like they have the potential to please every type of city dweller as well as perform a necessary function of reducing rain runoff by allowing storm-water to soak into the ground.  The finance hawks can take comfort in the fact that each strategically placed rain garden can reduce the burden on an increasingly expensive sewer system.  Eco-nauts can love the fact that the gardens incorporate native plant species, and reduces damaging run-off.  Draught-fearfuls will appreciate that the gardens send more rainwater back into the earth during the summer months of Lanier-induced panic.

What’s not to love?

And it’s not just something the city can tuck into small parcels of land around the city, but it’s also an idea that can benefit our commercial properties AND countless negative-revenue single family homeowers!  Want to install a few rain gardens yourself?  The Oakhurst Community Garden and the city are hosting a rain garden event at the Decatur Library in April.  Can’t wait ’til then?  You can also watch this 12 minute video put together by the city of Portland on the where and how of installing rain gardens around your home, do some more Googling and then get started (or hire someone to do it for you).

At the broader city level, it seems like if city staff could just determine where to put these rain gardens, you could find countless volunteers to spend the weekends digging the ditches, shoveling the dirt, and planting the low-maintenance plants.  What parent hasn’t dreamed of sending their tweenager out to dig a few ditches on a Saturday morning??  And they’d be digging “for the environment”.  What child of the new millennium wouldn’t love that?

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

7 thoughts on “Decatur: We Need More Rain Gardens!”


  1. In the Permaculture world these are called “swales.” The plantings chosen can be for aesthetic purposes but you can also grow edible plants as well.
    Check out the Clarkston Community Center grounds for an example of how these can be done on a larger scale.

  2. Thispicture is the community garden at the Clarkston Community Center but if you check out the CCC Facebook page you can see some of the swales and berms that are being installed in partnership with Clarkston Development Foundation and Edible Yard and Garden. It is an amazing landscaping project based on retaining water which in turn will provide passive rainwater for edible perennials such as blueberries, figs, apples etc. We have two installations – 1 in the front and 1 on the activity field hill. Feel free to come by and visit and check out our magnificent swales!

  3. I worry that the recent, progressive commentary and adulation heaped on Portland will undermine our claim to be the “Berkeley of the South.” We need to a clear, “progessive” mission statement, before we self-label our “progressivehood.” I would hate for the Californian progressives to fell less welcome than any Oregonian progressives. We want be inclusive in our “progressiveness” while making progress towards a clear self identity (of being progressive-ish).

Comments are closed.