Rain Garden workshops aim to help clean rivers

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — It’s part of the water cycle, rain falls from the sky, filters through the ground or into storm sewers, eventually ending up in our streams and rivers, before starting all over again. However, along the way debris and trash can be picked up and carried into the water system.

Rain gardens are one way to help clean up the debris and pollutants that the flow of water may pick up. You have probably seen these gardens around town and not even known they were placed there for a reason.

“Rain gardens are incorporated into a lot of areas,” said Anne Marie Smrchek, from Fort Wayne City Utilities, “We see rain gardens in schools and properties where we are capturing downspouts or areas we know water traditionally wants to drain to. We have placed rain gardens in those type of areas to capture water, soak it into the ground and what can’t be soaked into the ground is cleaner before it goes into our storm sewers and ultimately our streams and rivers.”

Rain gardens focus on using native plants that are accustom to the clay-based soils in our area, allowing them to become deeply rooted in the ground. This helps them absorb more water and slow the flow of excess water down enough to filter out the debris before it reaches streams and rivers.

Fort Wayne City Utilities’ Rain Garden Workshops aim to teach others how to build their own rain garden while also showing the benefits they could have for a property.

“A lot of people come to our workshops saying ‘Hey, I have an area where it’s really wet, the soil stays wet a lot of the time, or I have standing water on my property.’ So we try to go over tips for what a rain garden can do and how we can place it to help alleviate some of those problems to help stop some of that standing water,” explained Smrchek.

Once you attend the workshops, you may return home and find you still need assistance. City Utilities says they have the ability to send people out to advise you on your future rain garden, but only if you attend the workshop.

“We have master gardeners and other staff who are available to come out to your site. They will walk you through on where to place it, or what your questions are,” said Smrchek, “Maybe it’s plants, maybe it’s ‘What should I do with my soils’, they will help you with all of those things. They will basically help you with everything but the construction of the actual rain garden.”

There are three FREE rain garden workshops through the month of May. Each session requires pre-registration and is limited to the first 20 enrollees. To register, call 311 or 427-8311.

Saturday, May 8
8:30–10 am         
In-Person Packard Park Pavilion, 427 Kinsmoor Ave      
Pre-registration required.  Protective face masks are required
Thursday, May 13
11:30 am -12:45 pm 
VIRTUAL via ZOOM and pre-registration required.    
Saturday, May 22,
9:30 am – 10:45 am
In-Person Salomon Farm 817 W. Dupont Rd
Pre-registration required.  Protective face masks are required

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