Today is Earth Day and among the many environmental stories appearing in the news is this one from Urban Review on downtown St. Louis rain gardens.
"The newly rebuilt North Tucker Boulevard has numerous rain gardens, but unfortunately many are like the one shown above — not able to function as designed because too much mulch blocks the water."
Rain gardens are like sponges, bowl shaped beds with flat sides which keep rain runoff from getting into basements or overloading storm drains. The bottom of these beds are filled with loose soil and a variety of plants which absorb water and allow slow drainage. Rain Gardens are especially good to have in low lying areas of backyards which tend to pool up after a rain.
What's interesting in the Urban Review comment is how many of these small gardens have been added to the streets in downtown St. Louis. They not only soften the harshness of the streets, sidewalks and curbs but they serve a good purpose. Unfortunately it seems that city workers have done what many landscape people do and that is over do the mulch. Mulch certainly has its benefits, it makes things look neater but also holds in soil moisture and keeps out weeds. But, when it's piled up too high and thick, water slides off or can't get down into the soil which negates the purpose.
Taking care of the landscape and water runoff is a good thing, just don't pile the mulch higher and deeper.