The Mountaineer

By Mary Jane Curry

December 10, 2022

Benjamin Franklin’s proverb still holds true — “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In Western North Carolina, runoff from rain and snow is straining the infrastructure and damaging some local properties. Fortunately, there is a simple solution. It’s called a rain garden.

When heavy rains hit Waynesville, the downtown parking lot on Wall Street behind the Haywood County Arts Council would become waterlogged. In warm weather, it bred mosquitos.

Knowing that rain gardens are the most cost-effective solution to excessive precipitation, Arts Council Director Morgan Beryl engaged Spriggly’s Beescaping to design and install a rain garden in the Wall Street parking area — with funding from the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

“These systems are relatively common and should be the first step in attempting to fix most erosion problems seen on one’s property,” said Spriggly’s co-owner and horticulturalist Brannen Basham. “Even a relatively small rain garden like this can work wonders at controlling and slowing rapid runoff, reducing its ability to erode and disrupt surrounding landscapes.”

HCAC and the Climate Action Coalition recruited volunteers to prepare the ground, plant native wildflowers and shrubs, create drainage, and install a rain barrel. In return for their labor, volunteers learned all about rain gardens.

Basham explained to the volunteers how native plants are the least costly and most easily maintained options. Besides, they are beautiful.

The project provided unique hands-on learning for students from Haywood Community College’s Environmental Leadership Club and their family members, who joined the work day. The rain barrel was painted by Lauren A. Medford, a print maker and arts council member.

“This should become a model for more rain garden construction throughout the county, which is something we are planning to be a part of,” said Jim Geenen, chair of Climate Action Coalition’s Youth Climate Conservation Corps

WNC CAC is an all-volunteer group of individuals and nonprofits working to mitigate the climate crisis in the region. Mary Jane Curry, Ph.D., co-founder, is a Climate Reality® Leader.