Sea Grant partners are offering a popular Rain Garden app for homeowners in the Mid-Atlantic.

Rain Garden app

Delaware Sea Grant, collaborators adapt popular Rain Garden app for Mid-Atlantic


8:31 a.m., July 15, 2015--Rain gardens are beautiful and important tools for protecting Delaware’s waterways. 

As development and industrialization continue to grow, impervious surfaces like driveways and roofs cover ground and prevent water from naturally seeping back into the soil, blocking underground stores of water from being replenished. Rain gardens intercept this water and allow it to percolate back into the ground.

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They also filter nutrients and pollutants out of rain and storm water that would otherwise run off of impervious surfaces into the state’s rivers and bays. 

When planted in developed areas like residential neighborhoods or alongside commercial parking lots, rain gardens help protect state water quality, all while providing seasonal color and habitats for native wildlife like birds and butterflies.

Delaware Sea Grant (DESG) recently collaborated with Sea Grant partners in Maryland and New Jersey to expand the free Rain Garden app that gives homeowners and business owners the tools to design and create their own rain gardens. Local partners on the project include the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Rain Gardens for the Bays program.

Working collaboratively, the team updated the app, which was originally created through Connecticut Sea Grant, to include information specific to the Mid-Atlantic states, including native plants and soil characteristics.

As a result of this and other Sea Grant efforts across the country, the app is now available for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android in 13 states, including Delaware. 

The app uses Google Maps to help users size their garden, determine the soil types in the area, identify the best location to construct the garden and measure the size of the area that will drain to the garden. 

Users also can watch video tutorials, view diagrams and access tools that break down the process of building a rain garden step by step, from initial plant selection and cost calculation to long-term upkeep.

Ed Lewandowski, coastal communities development specialist and acting director of the Marine Advisory Service with DESG, which is housed in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, explained that the app provides a unique and effective way to encourage and help people to build rain gardens.

“Handouts and printed reference materials are helpful, but they may not always be effective methods for users to quickly access information when working in the yard,” Lewandowski said. “The Rain Garden app provides landscapers and individual homeowners instant access to volumes of information, including soil drainage maps, video tutorials, online plant catalogs and more.”

Users can also design and organize multiple rain garden projects simultaneously, and save progress and information on each project separately.

For more about the Rain Garden app, visit the Rain Gardens for the Bays website.

Article by Caren Fitzgerald and Karen Roberts

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