By Grade 5 Bennetto students Emma Lillycropp and Leeyah Leite-Hamilton

Recently our grade 5 class planted a natural rain garden at Bennetto Elementary school. Before we planted our garden we learned about collecting rain water with the “Raingers Rain Garden” program.  The Raingers came into our class and showed us different reasons for collecting rain water so it doesn’t get wasted by going into our sewer system.

It began with Laura Anderson from Green Venture. Laura, a brought in some hands-on miniature houses with different drainage and water collection options for us to work with. We learned how some surfaces are better than others for collecting rain and reusing it for household use such as gardens and watering lawns. We learned about permeable and non-permeable surfaces to help us better understand drainage and how to capture usable rain water.

This led us to the making of the actual rain garden at our school. We were shown how to build the garden with the help of Steve Watts from the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC).  Steve introduced us to several plants that we would be planting. In our garden we planted native plants that are perfect for soaking in the rain water that drains from the playground surface, some of the plants have really long roots that help soak up a lot of water. The reason we had plants that would drink up the water is because they help collect the rain water rather that it just draining directly into sewers.  If too much water flows into our sewers they can overflow and cause pollution in Hamilton Harbor.

We also learned about how rain barrels are something that people can have at their houses to collect the water and reuse it, if more people did this it would mean less water going into sewers.

As a class we will be taking care of the garden and making sure that it gets enough water. As it is a new garden we learned that it needs more water and attention to make sure it has a healthy start. After that we think the garden will be able to get enough water from storm runoff and won’t need much help from us.

We also learned that the plants are all getting ready for winter by hibernating, some of us thought they were dead, but that is just what they look like as they get ready for the winter and will be ready to come back in the spring.

There is as sign in front of the garden to let people know what the garden if for and so that people don’t step on the plants either.  Come by any time to check it out…you can find our Rain Garden under the big Bennetto School Tree.