Ryder Park in DeWitt boasts new system, garden

In DeWitt's Ryder Park, False Indigo rises in its purple glory in a chorus of river birch, irises, cardinal flower and swamp milkweed.

The colorful blooms are part of the Dewitt Parks and Recreation's rain garden project. The system consists of a gutter, a rain barrel, an underground pipe -- and plants. At Ryder Park, the barrel also features a spigot to water plants and flowers outside the garden perimeters.

Using such a simple system to capture cloudbursts, the water can be used to hydrate plants while reducing pollution and runoff by filtering the water before it enters local watersheds and sewer systems.

"It's a way to save the rain [and] use the rain, instead of just letting it run off," said the town's naturalist Chris Manchester. "Runoff creates a lot of pollution -- it brings with it fertilizers, your pet waste; everything that is on your lawn winds up in our watershed."

Ideally, you want the rainwater to absorb slowly into the ground versus running off into another water source. A rain garden allows this activity to occur.

The set up is easy, Manchester said, and material can be purchased online or at any home improvement store such as Home Depot.

"Our goal is really to educate," said Mike Moracco, assistant director of the parks and recreation department. "And see if we can all take ownership and do these simple things around our homes and prevent more runoff water from entering our system."

The garden should be comprised of native plants that are tolerant to both drought and water, and also to attract local pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

"Plants and insects evolve together," Manchester said."When we [grow] plants that aren't native to the area, the pollinators don't have anything to eat because they haven't evolved with the plant."

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