Learn about rain gardens at FSR

Gardens do more than beautify an area, instill a love for plants, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. They also can be a source of environmental conservation.

Visitors to Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review have the opportunity to tour a newly installed rain garden on the grounds of the Lawrence G. Vance Soil and Water Conservation Park along Friday Avenue in the exhibitor area.

The 480 square-foot rain garden was installed by members of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to educate visitors on how properly constructed rain gardens using Ohio native plants can combat flooding and drainage issues, alleviate erosion, provide wildlife habitats, and provide a value-added benefit to property.

“Having a presence at Farm Science Review really gives us the opportunity to promote the value of conservation to farmers, students, homeowners, business owners and others visiting the show,” said Mindy Bankey, CEO of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Signage and displays will explain how the rain garden was installed and showcase the Ohio native plants used in the garden. Such plants include spotted Joe-Pye weed, sneezeweed, marsh blazingstar, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, woolgrass, purple coneflower, wild bergamot, beard tongue, common mountain mint, and black-eyed susan.

“One of the keys to a successful rain garden is choosing plants that not only can soak up excess water, but are also drought and heat tolerant,” Bankey said. “The plants we are showcasing in our rain garden fit that criteria.”

Another aspect of a rain garden is its design, which involves creating a depression or dish in the soil that collects water for plants to use and keeps it from escaping to areas that are pollution-sensitive.

A rain garden, which is easy to install and maintain, is neither a pond nor a haven for mosquitoes — two common misconceptions.

The rain garden is just the latest addition in a series of conservation-related efforts that the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts are implementing at Farm Science Review. Visitors can also look for benches made out of recycled materials, a rain barrel, mulch made out of recycled tires, and an area highlighting various cover crops.

In addition, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts will have an interactive demonstration on the importance of soils, starring an animatronic earthworm.

In addition to the rain garden at the Lawrence G. Vance Soil and Water Conservation Park, a rain garden and rain collection system will be on display at the Utzinger Garden, located along Friday Avenue in the exhibit area.

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