by Dennis Dalman
Sartell residents are being reminded to maintain their rain gardens.
Even though the rain gardens are usually located within the city’s right-of-way, it’s the residents who must maintain them. At its May 29 meeting, the issue surfaced about whether or not residents have to pay to vacate rain gardens they no longer want. Council member David Peterson said he seems to remember the original plan was for the city to be responsible if a resident no longer wanted to have a rain garden. Council member Steve Hennes disagreed. It was always intended to be each homeowners’ responsibility to maintain them, he said. City Administrator Patti Gartland also said that was the city’s original intention.
Sartell Public Works Director Brad Borders told the council he is aware of only one or two rain gardens that have been removed by residents.
The vast majority of rain gardens in the city are well-maintained, according to Sartell Planner and Developer Anita Rasmussen. Maintenance, she said, is very easy because most plants and flowers in rain gardens don’t require much care as they tend to be perennials that pop up year after year. Maintenance, she said, usually requires splitting or trimming back the plants if they get too thick, too crowded or if sediments build up in the rain garden. Litter blown into the rain gardens should also be removed.
“Most rain gardens,” Rasmussen said, “are incredibly low maintenance.”
Rain gardens were introduced into the Sartell area about seven years ago. There was an intense public education program and public meetings at city hall to inform residents of what rain gardens are and why they are both aesthetically and environmentally pleasing. Rain gardens filter run-off water from lawns before that water can get into the city’s storm-sewer system. They can help prevent flooding while keeping the water cleaner that runs into the Sauk and Mississippi rivers.
Rasmussen estimates there are close to 100 rain gardens in the city. About 40-50 of them are in residential areas and about that same number have been added to business and office spaces. Most rain gardens are from 10-20 feet long and about 4-5 feet wide.
When the rain-garden concept was introduced, city staff and volunteers from the Sartell Volunteer Garden Club spent a lot of time educating the public about such gardens. Sartell residents seem to like rain gardens very much, Rasmussen noted.
“Many rain gardens are a part of the landscaped design plans,” Rasmussen said.