County letting its Rain Garden Program soak in

The Kitsap Conservation District Rain Garden Cost Share Program is quickly gaining interest among residents in South Kitsap for both its conservation properties and cost-effectiveness.

According to the agency, 47 property owners are already participating with more to come.

The residents in unincorporated Kitsap County have received technical assistance visits from specially trained Conservation District staff or Washington State University Master Gardeners to help educate and make design suggestions for their rain garden.

Once the garden is designed and installed, residents are eligible for a rebate of half the cost of the garden, up to $500.

Property owners may install the garden themselves or hire a contractor.

A rain garden is a planted area that allows rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces like driveways, walkways, roofs and parking lots the opportunity to be absorbed.

This allows the stormwater to soak into the ground instead of flowing into storm drains, which can lead to erosion, water pollution and flooding.

The gardens can be designed for specific soil types and climates, improving the home’s landscape while cutting down on the amount of pollution reaching creeks, streams and lakes.

“Rain gardens are one way to slow down water from rain storms and reduce the damage of high-energy storm flows,” said Joy Garitone, district coordinator of the Conservation District. “The goal of ‘slow-water’ allows time for the gardens’ infiltration to clean the water by removing pollutants from the driveway and lawns.”

Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management decided to share the investment of installing a rain garden, encouraging residents to soak runoff into the ground with the cost share program.

Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they are more tolerant of local climate, soil, and water conditions, and attract local wildlife.

Traditionally, a rain garden is the final stage of drainage, but also can be designed as a pass-through system where the water will filter through gravel layers and flow into a drain under the gravel and carried to a storm water system.

“In 2009, we held pilot workshops and asked folks what they thought,” said Mindy Fohn, water quality manager at Surface and Stormwater Management. “They clearly told us that a rain garden is not simple to install, and could be costly. In response to that, we partnered with Washington State University and KCD to provide field assistance and some share in the cost.”

According to the conservation district, fall is the perfect time to install a rain garden. They have set the target in 2010 to provide assistance to 100 residential properties.

There are several sites where homeowners can see new and established rain gardens:

• Kitsap Conservation District, 10332 Central Valley Road, Poulsbo;

• Road House Nursery 12511 Central Valley Road NW, Poulsbo;

• Stillwater Environmental Center 26059 Barber Cut Off Road, Kingston;

• Poplars Hotel, 9800 Silverdale Way NW, Silverdale;

• Illahee Preserve 3200 NE Riddell Road, Bremerton;

• Home Builders Association 5251 Auto Center Way, Bremerton; and,

• Breidablik Elementary School 25142 Waghorn Road NW, Pouslbo

For questions or more information on the rain garden program contact the Kitsap Conservation District at (360) 337-7171 or visit the website

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