Rain gardens are attractive, landscaped areas planted with perennial native plants which don’t mind getting ‘wet feet.’ They are beautiful gardens, built in depressions, which are designed to capture and filter stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces around the home, such as rooftops and driveways before it flows into storm sewers, creeks and rivers.
A rain garden is one way residents can protect our drinking water while decreasing harmful effects on waterways from flash flooding, erosion, and pollution. Storing water temporarily in a rain garden allows it to draw down slowly, preventing the possibility that it will pick up pollutants and carry them to the nearest stream. Water is naturally filtered as well: gardens remove and degrade contaminants through microbial processes, plant uptake, exposure to sunlight, and absorption to soil particles. Properly designed rain gardens capture the first inch of rainfall and drain within a day. Since most storms produce less than one inch of rainfall, capturing it reduces pollutants significantly. Source: Franklin SWCD
Using native plants provides beauty to the landscape as well as food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other animals. Remember, just because it is a native plant, does not mean it is a good choice for a rain garden. Refer to the plant list in the Rain Garden Manual for Homeowners. The district provides a presentation on Rain Gardens to the public and local groups.
If you want to attract birds to your feeders, watch this video with Gail Laux, Founder and Executive Director of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary.
The Atlas gardening gloves are durable and comfortable. A pair may end up being your favorite! Cost $5.00 + tax.
What is a Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is a container used to collect and store rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to a storm drain or out onto your property. The collected water in the rain barrel can then be utilized for watering landscapes, lawns, and gardens, reducing water consumption and pollution.
Why use a Rain Barrel?
Approximately 60% of our municipal water supply goes directly to watering our lawns. By using rain barrels, you lessen the amount of water flowing into our storm drains, sewer systems, and ultimately local waterways. This water can then be used during hot or dry spells to water your garden.
Protection of Local Watersheds
Seventy million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year, contaminating storm water (rainwater) runoff. Fertilizers and pesticides are a primary source of water pollution. By collecting rainwater, you prevent that runoff from picking up and carrying these harmful pollutants into our local waterways.
Using rainwater to water your garden is natural and healthy. Plants and beneficial microbes in the soil like rainwater because it is naturally soft – free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals.
Did You Know?
Believe it or not, for every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area of 1,000 square feet, you can expect to collect approximately 600 gallons of rainwater. Ten inches of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot catchment area will generate about 6,000 gallons of rainwater! That’s right, 6,000 gallons! Was that more than you were expecting?!
Common Milkweed Seed Pod Collection
To help foster the creation of habitat for the monarch butterfly, Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI), in cooperation with Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts organizes a statewide Milkweed Pod Collection each year September 1 to October 31.
Please join us in collecting Common Milkweed seed pods each year from October to November. The collection bin is located outside our office door. We wait to put it out because in Central Ohio the pods aren’t ready to be picked until about then.
Milkweed is essential to the survival of monarch butterflies in Ohio, which is a priority area for monarchs. The monarch butterflies that hatch here in the summer migrate to Mexico for the winter and are responsible for starting the life cycle all over again in the spring.
Milkweed is the only host plant for the Monarch butterfly for egg laying and caterpillar rearing. It also serves as a food source for Monarchs as well as many other pollinator species. The disappearance of milkweed across the U.S. has contributed to an 80% decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last 20 years.
Collecting Seed Pods
- Become familiar with common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.
- To collect the seed pods from a Common Milkweed plant it is best to pick them when they are dry and gray or brown in color. If the center seam of the pod pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked.
- Don’t collect pods that are already open, as they might be infested with insects.
- Place collected pods in paper bags or paper grocery sacks. Plastic bags collect unwanted moisture.
- On the bag, please write the date you collected the pods and the county you collected them from.
- Keep the pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the Richland SWCD office.
- Only collect from your property or property you have been given permission to go on; do not trespass.
- During the winter, seeds from the milkweed seed pod collection will be removed from the pods and returned to Richland SWCD in the spring to be distributed for planting.
Other SWCDs Collecting Common Milkweed pods
Check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District to see if they are collecting Common Milkweed pods. However, you can always take them to any district’s collection, they do not have to go to the county you collected them in or live in.
What is a Pollinator and Why are They Important?
Our friends at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources help explain.
- A pollinator is Animals that move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat.
- Fertilize plants as they move, allowing the plant to form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods.
- Over 100,000 invertebrates (butterflies, wasps, moths, bees, flies, beetles) and over 1,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians act as pollinators.
- Over 75% of plants rely on pollinators
- More than 150 food crops depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops
- Pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day
Pollinators Overall Continue to Decline
Why the Decline?
- Grassland/Wetlands/Shrub Lands converted to Cropland
- More lawns being planted
- Herbicides not only kill weeds, but may also drift into killing plants
- Insecticides killing pollinators like bees
How Can You Help?
Plant native plants. Native plants do well in our climate and soil. Because of this, they do well, don’t require a lot of maintenance and extra water. They have better root systems, so they also help prevent soil erosion and help reduce stormwater runoff. They also look great and attract pollinators!
Milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies. This means Monarch butterflies need milkweed to live, eat and reproduce.
A way you can help monarch butterflies is to plant milkweed, especially common milkweed, which is native to Ohio. We participate in the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative with many other Soil and Water Conservation Districts throughout the state. The primary purpose is to provide enough milkweed for monarch butterflies so their population can grow. Each year from approximately October 1 through about the first week of November, we ask Richland County residents to collect Common milkweed seed pods and drop them off at our office. Over the winter, volunteers remove the seeds from the pods and package them with planting instructions to be given away and planted.
Bee Friendly Resources
When considering plants in your landscaping, choose native plants first. Native plants are plants that are acclimated to our climate, require less water and have a strong root system which helps prevent soil erosion.
Invasive plants are plants that are non-native, crowd out native plants and cause decline in habitats.
Of the approximately 2,300 vascular plant species growing in the wild in Ohio, about 78 percent are native. The other 22 percent—more than 500 species—are not native to Ohio, having been introduced from other states or countries. Most non-native plants have been introduced for erosion control, horticulture, forage crops, culinary and medicinal use, wildlife foods, and by accident.
The majority of these species never stray from where they were introduced, yet some become very invasive and displace native plants in woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and other natural areas. Non-native, invasive plants cause a decline in species diversity in these habitats. A diverse, healthy ecosystem is important for clean air and water, soil stability, and food and shelter for wildlife. Invasive plants are a major threat to the health of our ecosystems and to the viability of rare species.
Planning Your Yard
Choose helpful plants native to our region, like Scarlet or Trumpet Honeysuckle (non-invasive, good for to wildlife) vs. Bush Honeysuckle (not native, harmful Invasive). Do not take plants from the wild; Avoid wildflower mixed seed packets that may contain Invasive plants
Native Plant Seed Packets
Native Plant Resources
- Ohio and National Native Plant Month
- Ohio Natural Areas & Preserves Association
- Ohio Native Plant Suggestions for Horticultural Plantings
- 2020 Native Plant Catalog
- Ohio State University Native Plant List
- Native Plant Video
- Native Plants for Wildlife
- Ohio Native Growers
- Ohio Native Upland Woods Species
- Wildflowers of Ohio, Robert L. Henn, Quarry Books, ISBN 978-0-253-21951-0
- Plant Native (select Ohio)
- Pollinator Partnership (click on Planting Guides and enter your zip code)
- National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
- Wild Ones Native Plants, Natural Landscapes
- NWF Garden for Wildlife Certification free info packet: call 800-822-9919 M-F 8:30-5pm EST
- Bringing Nature Home Updated & Expanded, Douglas W. Tallamy, Timber Press, ISBN-13: 978-0-88192-854-8
- Remove Invasive plants: Worst in Ohio
- Learn more about Invasive Species
- Wildlife injured or problems? Ohio Wildlife Center, Rehabilitation, 614-793-9453: ohiowildlifecenter.org
- Wildlife removal – no kill, central Ohio area, “Scram! Wildlife Control” 24-hr 614-763-0696: scramwildlife.org
What is the Envirothon?
The ENVIROTHON is a high school competition held annually designed to stimulate, reinforce and enhance interest the environment and natural resources. Students are tested on their knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues. In addition, the Envirothon encourages cooperative decision-making and team building. While each student on a team is challenged individually to contribute his or her personal best, the score that counts at the end of the competition is the team score. A team consists of five students, all from the same high school. An adult advisor (or advisors) must accompany the team but is not permitted to assist the team during the competition.
High School students across the state compete each spring on the local level at one of the five Area Envirothons. Richland County is part of Area 2 which consists of teams from 17 northeastern Ohio counties. The top four teams from each Area Envirothon progress to the state contest in June held in a different part of the state each year. The 2022 Ohio Envirothon will be held at Lake Erie College in Painesville June 5 to 7. The top-scoring Ohio Envirothon team advances to the International Envirothon, hosted by a different state or province each year. The 2022 National Conservation Foundation Envirothon will be held at Miami University in Oxford, OH July 24-30. For more information go to envirothon.org.
In Ohio, Envirothon is sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Natural resource and environmental specialists from many agencies, organizations, colleges, universities, park districts and businesses devise the Envirothon questions and staff the various testing eco stations.
The Ohio Envirothon is financed by grants, donations from businesses and through contributions to the Don Rehl Memorial Envirothon Fund. Many local businesses also provide services and products in support of Area and Ohio Envirothons.
2022 Area 2 Envirothon
The 2022 Area 2 Envirothon will be held April 28, 2022, at Kent State University-Salem Branch, 2491 OH-45, Salem, OH 44460.
The theme for the 2022 Envirothon is “Waste to Resources.” The international competition will be held at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio July 24 – 30.
March 17, 2022: Team registration and release forms are due
April 28: Area 2 Envirothon held at Kent State University-Salem Campus
June 5 to 7: Ohio Envirothon held at lake Erie College
July 24 to 30: National Envirothon at Miami University, Oxford, OH
How Can My School Participate?
A team consists of five students, all from the same high school. High Schools can register up to 3 teams to compete. An adult advisor(s) will complete the Team Registration Form, but is not permitted to assist the team during the competition. Click here to register your school.
Want to Get Involved?
It is our hope, as resource professionals, to push the minds of young people to realize the interrelationship of all living things and to look towards the future of resource management. We are always looking for Envirothon volunteers, mentors, and sponsors. If you or your business are interested in becoming involved, please contact the Community Relations Coordinator.
Backyard conservation can really reduce storm water problems. When rain falls on roadways and rooftops, it can’t soak gently into the ground as it once did. Instead, it flows down gutters and into storm sewers, picking up pollutants as it goes. Besides affecting the quality of water in streams and rivers, this runoff can cause flooding more quickly. Here are some examples of easy conservation practices that you can incorporate at home.
Impervious Areas are man-made areas that cannot absorb water from rain or snow.
Impervious Area Examples:
- Parking Lots
A watershed is an area of land where water flows or drains to the same point. Rainfall and snow melt that isn’t absorbed into the soil (runoff) eventually finds its way to a river, lake or ocean.