Our Ocean Friendly Gardens team hosted a hands-on rain garden workshop over the past weekend. We had a blast designing, planting, weeding, and mulching our rain garden!
This site previously had the roof gutters routed to drain into a planted basin. The native wild rye and deer grass that were originally planted have become well established in the garden but were in need of a trim. Most of the other plants unfortunately did not survive, and the garden was in need of some attention and upkeep. This particular garden is in a neighborhood that lacks green space, and is on a corner that many families and neighbors walk by. As a part of the Los Alamitos sub-watershed, this garden can play a valuable role in preventing urban runoff and pollution.
Rain gardens function as living, sponge-like filters for stormwater pollution, diverting contaminated water from entering storm drains and harming our local beaches. Although Long Beach only gets about 11.5 inches of rainfall a year, this 1400 square foot roof can create 880 gallons of runoff in just 1 inch of rain! By directing water to plants instead of street gutters, we can create habitat and improve biodiversity while saving valuable rain water from being wasted.
We chatted about the native plants selected and where we planned to place them within the garden. Most of the plants represented the local sage scrub plant community, including coyote bush, coastal sunflower, and coastal sage. We also included yerba mansa, carex, yarrow, and mugwort for lower in the basin, as these plants can survive seasonal flooding. These native plants and their flowers will support native pollinators, birds, and other local wildlife while bringing beauty to this neglected corner. For more information about native plants, check out our native plant resources at the bottom of the OFG page or on Beachapedia.
Our Long Beach OFG program leader Kai Craig guided the volunteers to help shape the bioswale and layout the plants according to the design he drafted. The soil was a bit hard and compacted, but we amended it with cactus mix to promote drainage. Once the roots of the plants are established and spread into the soil, they will reduce compaction and create spaces that retain water and soak up rain.
Volunteers planted all of the California native plants in the rain garden basin, and then helped to spread mulch. The mulch will conserve water and add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, and is beneficial to a wide variety of plants. The closest city mulch yard is at Willow Springs Park in Signal Hill, and is free for Long Beach residents to pick up from!
It rained the following day, perfect timing for our new garden to get a strong start. We are excited to see it grow and bloom, and hope this is a place we can continue to gather and tend to as part of our Ocean Friendly Gardens program.
Our next OFG event will be on January 7th in Long Beach, stay in touch with our newsletter and instagram for details! Want to make your own yard more ocean friendly? Check out our pathways with Dashboard.Earth for more ways to get involved!