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Gardens are not one-size-fits-all. Yard space varies in moisture and sun exposure across the state. For folks with a lot of wet, low-lying areas with spotty sun, there probably aren’t tomatoes. But there can be a rain garden.

A rain garden is a planted depression or a hole that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, and parking lots, the opportunity to be absorbed. This reduces rain runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground.

The benefits of a rain garden are many. Rain gardens typically:
•             Capture runoff before it enters a lake or pond.
•             Provide habitats for wildlife.
•             Reduce lawn maintenance demands (rain gardens do not need to be mowed).

Why try to capture and absorb stormwater? Rain gardens help reduce water pollution. Studies have found that the majority of the pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes are carried there by stormwater. About half of the pollutants in stormwater are from landscaping and gardening activities like fertilizing, pruning, clipping, and pesticides.

One of the best news about rain gardens is that they can be tailored to the moisture and sun available in your yard. They do operate best in full or partial sun, and the plants chosen should be able to withstand a short period of wetness in between a rain event and drainage. They should likewise be able to withstand periods of dryness. Consistently wet and periodically flooded areas challenge gardeners all over the world. Luckily nature created plants that work very well in such environments. Georgia has native plants – perennials, shrubs and trees – that are just waiting to live in your wet spots.

The University of Georgia has developed a smart phone app to assist gardeners in choosing the correct plants for their rain garden. Its tools range from a plant selector to a ‘Where to Dig’ map locator.