partial ravine in the backyard of Maureen and Chris Greene has been
transformedfrom eyesore to eco-friendly eye candy, thanks to a rain
garden grant from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District,
Maureenís diligences and the expertise of her landscaping team.
Seeking a solution for the dead area in the middle of her yard, a
posting by the MMSD at the Alterra coffee shop in Grafton caught her
attention. She checked it out online, wrote a proposal with the help
of Pat Baganz of Petite Gardenscapes and was selected for the award,
which meant she could purchase native Wisconsin rain garden plants at
East Towne Landscape Services in Port Washington prepared the
ravine, which included removing the stumps of several dead elm trees
and installing the Lannon stone path that is the centerpiece of the
garden. "It gives the appeal of walking into the depths of the
rain garden," Greene says. "Itís nice and serene."
By the end of summer, the Greenes were realizing the fruits of
their labors as the 4-inch plantings grew to a fully appreciated rain
garden that attracted birds and butterflies as well as the less
welcome deer. "Rather than having just more grass to cut I have
the opportunity for floral growth of all different types," Greene
says, "from grasses to bush specimens that are wide and broad and
give texture to the backyard."
Greene says she loves watching the colors of the self-sustaining
rain garden evolve throughout the summer. She is also very pleased
about the environmental benefits of the rain garden, which has helped
decrease water runoff into nearby Lake Michigan.
"I think Maureen was very proactive in going about solving her
problem," Baganz says. "I think she provides a good example
to the average gardener. She was resolute in making sure this problem
in her backyard was going to get solved."
Baganz says there are lots of good sites on the Internet to find
information about installing a rain garden and which plants to choose.
"If you can also use the runoff from your roof, you can save a
lot of water from running off down streets and into rain sewers,"
In selecting plants for the rain garden, Baganz chose two types:
those that need moisture and those that donít. "We combined
them because we know itís not alwaysgoing to be moist in
there," she says. But, she notes, she selected plants with deeper
root systems that donít require a sprinkler system to survive.
"That kind of defeats yourpurpose," she says.