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Pioneer rain garden grows from partnership

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Pike County Master Gardeners have partnered to create a rain garden on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots and compacted lawn areas the opportunity to be absorbed.

This reduces rain runoff by allowing storm water to soak into the ground rather than flowing into storm drains and surface waters which causes erosion, water pollution, flooding and diminished groundwater.

Rachel Dykes, regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said there are several areas at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama with erosion problems and the partnership with the Master Gardeners will alleviate one of those with the rain garden.

“This rain garden is two feet deep and about 400 square feet and that’s bigger than it had to be,” Dykes said. “The city of Troy provided us with the equipment and the driver to excavate the garden. We are doing the rest.”

The “rest” included building a berm with the sod that had been removed during the excavation, filling the depression with mulch and topsoil and planting winter flowers.

“The rain water will come down the slope to the rain garden and from the roof of the schoolhouse and other nearby structures,” Dykes said.

“We decided that we also needed to build a grass swale, which is a natural ditch, to direct the water from the roof to the rain garden. We lined the swale with sod that was removed when digging the depression.”

Dykes said the rain garden is designed like a basin and it will capture the first inch of rainwater, which will infiltrate the soil, keeping the water out of the sewage system while watering the native plants and flowers planted there.

Jerry Peak, museum director, said he is very appreciative of the interest the Extension System and Master Gardeners have taken in the museum grounds.

“The work they are doing will correct an erosion problem that we have in the area between the schoolhouse and the demonstration cabin and make the area much more attractive,” he said.

“We appreciate all they do to make the Pioneer Museum of Alabama a better place to visit.”