Seminar on rain gardens to be presented in Winsted

July 7, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Plant a rain garden and reap its benefits!

It adds beauty to any landscape, attracts birds and butterflies, helps prevent flooding, and protects the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams.

When rain gardens are planted in a shallow depression and filled with water tolerant plants, it is designed to intercept runoff and soak it into the ground, filtering the water naturally through the plants and the soil.

Learn more about rain gardens in an informational seminar to be presented in the new Winsed City Hall community room Wednesday, Aug. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m., by Karen Terry a regional extension educator of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

The three-hour seminar is sponsored by the Winsted Lake Watershed Association and Winsted Hardware Store. Registration is limited to 22 people.

“It is limited to 22 people because it is a first-rate lecture with a lot of handout information and a slide presentation,” Greg Gehrman of Winsted Hardware said.

“We will get a wonderful education in gardening, in general. The skills you learn about soil preparation for the rain gardens, and the planting techniques and the choice of species, could apply to all of your border gardens,” Gehrman said.

Petie Littfin, member of the Winsted Lake Watershed Association board of directors, has been trying to get the U of M to come to Winsted and talk about rain gardens since last year. She feels fortunate to have been able to schedule this workshop opportunity for this area in August.

“People can still do a fall garden, and if they don’t have the time this year, they can get it ready to go for next spring,” Littfin said.

“Every person in this community can have a rain garden,” Littfin said. “A rain garden filters pollution runoff that comes off of the roof and from the fertilizers and the pesticides that don’t go into the ground, before the water gets into the storm drain.”

About 40 percent of Minnesota lakes and rivers are polluted. Runoff is responsible for 86 percent of the pollution, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

In addition, according to the University of Minnesota Master Gardener Program, rain gardens soak up 30 percent more runoff than lawns.

“Water is pretty precious. I know the city has a lot of energy and headaches when you have poor water quality. It gets expensive to treat. If there is a natural solution to bettering the water quality, it is certainly a lot cheaper than having to go in and chemically treat,” Gehrman said.

Besides protecting the earth’s water-quality, another benefit of the rain garden is what it adds to the scenery.

“A rain garden has all sorts of different flowers and it is beautiful. It also brings a lot of birds and butterflies,” Littfin said. “I don’t put any bird seed out anymore because of my gardens. I have more birds in my yard now than I had two years ago, and the different butterflies are just awesome.”

Mosquitoes are not a product of the rain gardens. A rain garden is not intended to hold water for long periods. Mosquitoes will not survive in wetlands that dry out in less than a week after a summer rain, according to the U of M Extension Service.

The deadline for registering for the seminar is Friday, Aug. 1.

A registration form can be found in this issue of the Herald Journal, or at Glenn’s SuperValu, Winsted City Hall, Winsted Hardware, and Winsted Public Library.

Following the seminar, a 15 percent discount certificate will be presented to those attending, for merchandise purchased at Winsted Hardware for use in planting a rain garden.

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