Becky Roark of Beaver Watershed Alliance Visits Ripples

Ripples Plans for a Rain Garden!

Becky Roark holds pink rooted lespedeza, an invasive plant

I enjoyed the wisdom and company of Becky Roark, Beaver Watershed Alliance, at the Historic Johnson Farm November 1st 2017. She had helped instruct me in rain garden installation during October’s Rain Garden Academy, a really neat free morning class held at Hobb’s State Park Conservation Center. The class taught me about appropriate native plants for rain gardens and how to install an effective rain garden to reduce erosion, parking lot runoff, or in our situation, filter greywater from our off-grid cottage. We’ll be using a rainwater harvesting system on our metal roof with a cistern, filters, and greywater pipes directed into native plant beds.

Becky Roark at the site of the future greywater garden.

Lucky for us that the Beaver Watershed Alliance and native plant nurseries exist to guide us on that path! The Rain Garden Academy provided an excellent detailed list of native plants that are known to be available locally. The handout included various traits for each plant, such as tolerance for shade or moisture levels and my favorite characteristic, attracting wildlife!

She taught me about the “4 horsemen of the prairie” which are native grasses: little bluestem (Shizachyrium scoparium), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans). These are the plants which have dominated North American prairie habitats. We need our native prairie plants to maintain the natural ecosystem with prairie wildlife.

Trees in rain gardens can be fine, but often block sunlight and create some problems, so it’s totally fine to not have any trees in a rain garden. Just use flowering plants, grasses and shrubs to filter the water, slow it down and seep it deeper into the ground. I’m really excited to see what our rain garden will look like! We won’t be able to start planting it until early next year, but that’s just around the corner.


Interview with Becky Roark, Beaver Water District

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Tim Snell

Great interview, Becky is a real environmental asset. Trees may not fit into all rain garden projects. Trees can be planted outside of the rain garden in the northern aspect so they will not block the sun and far enough away so they won’t interfere with root growth in the garden. You can be creative with the tree species selected and the shape of the tree planting so that it will provide many years of added value to the project, such as wind protection, fruit and nut production, medicinal/botanical production, and eventually wood production. Trees can provide shade, beauty, and… Read more »

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