New Albany fifth-graders are building a rain garden outside the school annex on New Albany-Condit Road in an effort to recycle rainwater that falls from the building's flat roof.

New Albany fifth-graders are building a rain garden outside the school annex on New Albany-Condit Road in an effort to recycle rainwater that falls from the building's flat roof.

"A rain garden diverts water from rooftops directly into the garden instead of sending it into local waterways," said Bill Resch, the district's nature consultant. "This reduces erosion and pollutants in the water system and provides beautiful low-maintenance landscaping."

To start the project, students worked with the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District to determine the size of the garden.

"The size is based off the drainage area and the type of soil you have to work with," said Stephanie Suter, habitat conservationist for the district.

Suter said based on the average amount of rainfall and the area's drainage, the rain garden should be able to process 62,000 gallons of storm water a year.

The water will run through gutters on the roof into the rain garden. Of the 12 gutters on the building, Suter said, two will now run into the rain garden.

The garden is about 325 square feet. Pete Barnes, the fifth-grade teacher who came up with the idea for the rain garden, said adults dug the space about 10 inches deep and put in compost. They will till the soil and compost together before having students plant the rain garden May 6.

The fifth-graders chose nine plants to use in the garden and were challenged to design it using those plants. Barnes said five designs were chosen and the students voted on the best. They chose Hannah Sinai's design, which she organized by color.

Sinai said she had the list of plants and knew which ones needed more water. Those were placed in the garden's center, where most of the water will go. Those that need less water will be planted around the edges of the garden.

"I put the wet ones near the drain and worked my way out with plants that can be drier on the edge," she said. "I grouped the plants by color and with the same kinds of flowers."

The plants that will be used are blue false indigo, blue flag iris, wild quinine, white false indigo, dense blazingstar, bee balm, cardinal flower, swamp milkweed and little bluestem.

Barnes said about one-third of the fifth-graders have been involved in the project. The students went into the garden April 21 to learn how the rain would be absorbed into the ground. Using displays provided by the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District and New Albany, students observed how much faster water runs through plain soil than it does through soil with a plant. They also tested running water through soil covered in mulch.

Suter said plants help slow runoff and filter and clean the water before it returns to a stream.

"The number one benefit of a rain garden is it improves the water quality of our streams," she said. "The gardens capture any pollutants that would have been going (into the stream) and it helps prevent floods, property damage and stream-bank erosion."

Two grants have been received: $175 from the New Albany Community Foundation and $1,825 from the Friends of the Scioto River.