Rain Garden Adoption Program

The City of Austin’s Grow Green fact sheet describes rain gardens and their purpose beautifully:

“A rain garden is a shallow, vegetated depression designed to absorb and filter runoff from hard (impervious) surfaces like roofs, sidewalks, and driveways. Rain gardens are usually planted with colorful native plants and grasses. They not only provide an attractive addition to the [space], but also help to conserve water and protect our water quality.

Reilly Elementary School Rain Garden. Photo by Austin Watershed Protection Department.

 

“As Austin becomes increasingly urbanized, native landscapes are replaced with impervious surfaces that prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. Stormwater quickly runs off these hard surfaces, picking up pollutants from the land and carrying them to our creeks. This rapidly flowing water also increases the chances of flooding and erosion.

“The goal of a rain garden is to keep water on the land. Rain gardens, with their shallow depressions, capture stormwater and provide for natural infiltration into the soil. This provides water for the plants and helps maintain a constant flow of water in our streams through groundwater. They also help filter out pollutants including fertilizers, pesticides, oil, heavy metals and other chemicals that would otherwise reach our creeks through storm drains or drainage ditches. By reducing the quantity of water that runs off […], rain gardens help lower the risk of flooding and erosion.”

 

Woodview Rain Garden

Woodview Rain Garden. Photo by Austin Transportation Department, 2020.

As part of the 2016 Mobility Bond, and with input from the Watershed Protection Department, a rain garden was constructed at the corner of Shoal Creek Blvd and Woodview Avenue by the Austin Transportation Department in August 2020. Shoal Creek Conservancy is facilitating neighborhood and community adoption of this rain garden by coordinating services and supplies, and educating, guiding, and supporting volunteers during the establishment and maintenance phases.

Efforts & Progress

6.18.22 Began the process of solarization to prepare the rain garden for native plantings in the fall with the plan to transform it from mowed bermuda turfgrass to native plants which will benefit rain garden function, water quality in Shoal Creek, pollinators, and the beauty of this corner of the neighborhood.

7.30.22 Continue solarization in other areas of the rain garden.

9.11.22 Final solarization workday in the remainder of the rain garden.

11.20.22 Hardworking volunteers were guided by Drew Sloat, City of Austin Landscape Architect, in rebuilding the rain garden’s inlet to improve functionality and make it easier to maintain. Also, they planted approximately 80 native plants, beginning the task of transforming the rain garden from bermuda turfgrass to native vegetation.

12.11.22 After an irrigation system (purple pipes) was installed by Environmental Survey Consulting the prior week, an efficient group of 18 neighborhood and community volunteers planted nearly 400 native plants and grasses in just under 2 hours, covering approximately two thirds of the rain garden! The fall and winter rains will give these plants a great start and the irrigation system will keep the garden thriving during next year’s dry summer months.