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You Can Grow It: A low-water garden

A demonstration garden in Nampa's Lakeview Park is full of beautiful plants that thrive in low-water environments.

NAMPA, Idaho — Saving water is always a good thing, especially in dry years like 2021.

In Nampa's Lakeview Park, there's a small garden that's different from the rest of the park. Instead of lush green grass and shady trees, this garden looks more like the surrounding natural landscape of southwest Idaho.

The city of Nampa built the 'rain garden' to educate all of us on the types of plants that can grow while conserving water.

"A rain garden is designed to soak up any excess stormwater runoff we get," explains Amy Reynolds with Nampa Community Outreach.

They can also filter any pollutants before they reach nearby waterways.

"Given our current water resources, it's really beneficial to have a rain garden in your yard," said Reynolds. "You're going to end up using a lot less irrigation water."

Besides absorbing excess runoff, the garden is filled with native plants that will thrive in the extremes common to our local climate.

"Anyone can put one of these together," said Reynolds. "We do have instructional booklets here that the city provides, as well as information on these signs over here."

We're not always going to have access to the same amount of water we do today in Idaho so a rain garden is one way to have a beautiful landscape while conserving our limited resources.

The Nampa rain garden was completed earlier this summer. Each plant variety was selected to represent native Idaho vegetation for color, drought tolerance, and the ability to survive our hot summers and cold winters.

When considering installing a rain garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.

"I look at the area, the shape of it," explains horticulture specialist Rachel Armstrong. "I know the different plants that have various heights once they grow, so I take that into account because I don't want to hide some plants, but I also want to put similar colors together and just have that variety so there's interest throughout the whole bed."

You'll also want to take into account the amount of rain your area receives on average.

"So for the longevity of this garden, and for the success of the garden, we chose more low-water ones so that the plants will actually live," explained Armstrong.

The Nampa rain garden includes a lacy pink yarrow, bright purple coneflowers, various shades of penstemons, and a striking red hyssop.

These plants also attract wildlife and pollinators.

"We have hummingbirds, butterflies, a variety of different bees," said Armstrong.

Several types of native grasses are also on display including fountain grass, feather seed grass and blue oat grass.

The ultimate goal of the rain garden is to make us all more aware of the need to conserve water, and to display some of the native plants that will not only survive but will provide beauty and longevity in your home landscape.

The Nampa rain garden is located in the northwest part of Lakeview Park at Garrity Boulevard and Eleventh Avenue North, in Nampa.

There are informational signs displaying information about the plants and the city has instructional booklets available.

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