RainScape Rebates & Rewards

by Cindy Gilberg

Clean water is a precious resource. Human development has replaced much of the natural world with buildings and pavement. These hard surfaces allow rainfall to run off, carrying pollutants with it. Resulting rainwater related problems can be addressed with an array of sustainable landscaping practices called “rainscaping”. Fostering more permeable soils and deeper rooted plants to help soak up rain where it falls is the primary focus, with the ultimate goal being to improve water quality in our region.

What can we do to be good stewards of the water in our region and beyond? Rainscaping includes alternatives such as rain gardens and bioswales, planting trees, replacing lawn with perennials and shrubs, or installing rain barrels that overflow into a garden.

The Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, a project of Missouri Botanical Garden, promotes rainscaping that aids in reducing the amount and velocity of stormwater runoff. For a limited time, incentives and rebates are available. Any homeowner is eligible to register for a drawing to receive prizes. The grand prize is a $500 certificate to purchase plants at the Spring Shaw Wildflower Market May 9 and 10, 2014. For prize drawing details and information on how to rainscape, see the RainScaping Guide at www.mobot.org/rainscaping.

In addition, within participating municipalities, a property owner can apply for a rebate of up to 75% of expenses (or a maximum of $2000.00) to implement one or more rainscaping features. Round Three applications will be available November 15th online at www.deercreekalliance.org or at the city halls of participating municipalities. To view a list of municipalities, visit the same website.

Where do you start? Begin by taking a close look at your property and what happens to water on your property when it rains. Do you have soil erosion? Do you have low, wet areas where grass doesn’t grow? Consider native plants that grow in wet soils. Do you have large expanses of mowed turf? Perhaps some of that could be replaced with shrubs and ground covers. Eliminate the use of pesticides—these add to water pollution when dissolved in stormwater runoff. Do you have steep slopes with soil erosion that are difficult to mow? Consider native hardy shrubs and perennials that thrive in these areas. There are many plant-based solutions to these problems that multi-task as solutions to our region’s stormwater management issues. Native plants are encouraged because they are well adapted to our region, replace lost habitat, and increase biodiversity.

Can one person make a difference? Each of us can make a positive impact. We all live in a watershed—an area of land where rainfall drains to a creek, river or other body of water. What we do on our own property impacts everyone downstream. As we move into a future that demands more sustainable solutions, we can look to nature for some of the answers, and consider creating landscapes that are functional as well as aesthetic.

RainScape Rebates is funded by Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation, Missouri Department of Conservation, Great Rivers Greenway, participating municipalities, and US EPA Region 7 through the Department of Natural Resources (subgrant number G11-NPS-15), under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.

Cindy Gilberg is a Missouri native and horticulturist whose work includes design and consulting, teaching and writing. Much of her work focuses on native plants, habitat gardens and rain gardens. Cindy’s projects include work at Shaw Nature Reserve and its Native Plant School, the Shaw Profes-sional Landscape Series and the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance. You can ontact Cindy at 314-630-1004 or cindy.gilberg@gmail.com.