Union County, NJ – Ten lucky homeowners in Rahway are having a portion of their yards transformed into customized, professionally designed rain gardens free of charge, as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce street flooding and improve water quality in the Robinson’s Branch Watershed in Rahway.
Rain gardens are specially constructed beds that use particular kinds of soil to help excess stormwater seep into the ground, rather than running off from lawns, driveways, or roof drains.
“The Rahway Rain Garden project is a wonderful demonstration of how individual actions can add up to achieve big benefits,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter. “Rain gardens help to improve water resources, with the added benefit of contributing attractive features to local streetscapes.”
In addition to flood mitigation, rain gardens provide natural filtration that helps prevent urban runoff from adding pollutants to local waterways.
Because they are typically planted with native perennials, rain gardens also help to reduce the cost of yard maintenance. Compared to lawns, which require constant care during the growing season, the typical rain garden thrives with no fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, or water other than rainwater or snowmelt.
The Rahway Rain Garden Project is a program of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, the Rutgers Water Resources Program, and the City of Rahway, with funding from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is supported in part by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Participants were enlisted in for the project last spring. The program was limited to Rahway residences within the Robinson’s Branch watershed. The homes selected for the project are on Garden Street, Midwood Drive, Central Avenue., Elm Terrace, Briarcliffe Drive, and Keller Place.
As part of an effort to raise public awareness about the benefits of rain gardens, the participants agreed to permit images of their rain gardens to be posted on the Rutgers website. They will also have educational signs posted at their gardens.
The gardens were designed under the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program by Tobiah Horton, an Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, and Richard Alomar, also an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture at Rutgers.
Union County residents who would like to know more about rain gardens can contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension Environmental Agent Michele Bakacs at 732-398-5274, or visit the Union County website at ucnj.org/rce.
For general gardening questions in Union County contact the free Garden Helpline, a Rutgers Extension service run by volunteer members of the Master Gardeners of Union County with support from the Freeholder Board, at 908-654-9852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.