Sie sind auf Seite 1von 32

April/may 2013

The Mansouri home is a green dream house

Dont let your ducts leak dollars


is welcome in this garden

may be just your style

A passive house

April &May
Cover story
The Mansouris have made a remarkable house even more special by reducing energy consumption in fascinating ways.

There are many ways to be greenand unique.

Get your ducts in a row

Make your HVAC work for you, not against you.


The passive house

A passive house can be beautiful and simple.


Louise Madonia practices the high art of recycling with products and organizations she supports.


In the garden
Youll welcome the rain when you know more about rain gardens and how they help maintain our water purity.


April/May 2013



3 Inspirations 2


339-5799, 702 W. Tharpe Street


Welcome to a green world of beauty, jewelry and home dcor.
Feel the luxury of Aveda smooth lissage. So Pure Salon, $30.50

So Pure Salon
1410 Market St., 727-0482
ged Setfeel Tourmaline Char nature using the energy from urmaline, $45. To d re e d w o p ly fine

Rosemary and mint soap is a refreshing combination. So Pure Salon, $16

2 April/May 2013

Published by the Tallahassee Democrat
president and publisher

Julie Moreno 850-599-2126


How green is your world?

learned a new word at the right time for this issue. Virescent is an adjective that means becoming green.There are lots of ways to become green without having to involve Kermit the frog.

April Miller
contributing writers

Marina Brown Andy Lindstrom Kathy Radford Kati Schardl

contributing photographers

Edward and Virginia Mansouri have converted their home into an energy-saving powerhouse, while retaining every amenity possible in a home with all of its grandeur: a pool, hot tub, office building, movie theater and home gym. And if you need to know the weather at Moore Pond, the weather station automatically reports to a Facebook page. This home is a testament to being energy conscious all at the touch of Edward Mansouris iPhone. Dont worry about being able to see all of his apps and controls he can project them onto his offices smart board or the family theater. If youre looking for a sweet and simpler green home, read Marina Browns article on the Passive House. This home design is just making its way to the Southeast where our natural weather patterns allow for a home with an energy efficient design. And speaking of design, our Inspirations pages have an array of products that span beauty products to barn wood. Every year we see more and more items that are beautiful and recycled or completely natural. As April showers will bring May flowers, consider planting a rain garden to help that runoff in your yard and improve the view. I cannot imagine a yard in our city of seven hills that could not use a rain garden. Not only does this type of garden slow down the flow of water, it helps to filter what ultimately flows into our rivers, lakes and aquifer. We have a lot to lose if our air flow is not monitored in our homes. Avery Hurt reports on cleaning your ducts and even sealing any leaks. There are so many ways we can help reduce our footprints on the earth. I hope you enjoy finding some with these pages. Saving the best for last, were featuring a unique way to think of being greener. Dont just read about it, but make sure you visit The Collection the creation of Louise Madonia that not only recycles unwanted items, but uses the proceeds to benefit others. Madonia includes a large amount of entertainment in the process; with a huge personality, 3 cats (one rescued from a drain pipe is named Piper), a vegetable and flower garden and an eye for color, detail and humor that any designer would envy. So now well be taking a solar cue from this issue the coastal issue is next, coming in June.

Glenn Beil Linda and Olyn Long

contact us

Lisa Lazarus 850.599-2333

Home & Design Magazine is published six times a year by the Tallahassee Democrat at 277 N. Magnolia Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32301. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. Home & Design Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork.

show us your stuff

Do you know of a home that should be in Home & Design? Please e-mail Lisa Lazarus, llazarus@

Lisa Lazarus Home & Design

April/May 2013

This barn wood candlestick could not have been more artfully repurposed. Vignettes, $69, candle, $30 Who knew a bike chain could be such a cool frame? Ten Thousand Villages, $18 This aluminum necklace uses pretty roses as a feminine detail. Nomads, $50

1318 N. Monroe St., 681-3222
Spread the printed word with recycled newspaper pages. Vignettes, $40

2066 Thomasville Rd., 386-8525
4 April/May 2013

A colorful bird sculpture is a metal makeover, Ten Thousand Villages, $58

Ten Thousand Villages

1415 Timberlane Rd., 906-9010
Green grasses make an earthy container, Ten Thousand Villages, $10

chm id mak e e te r n s al spr in g f l o we rs for Nom a $12 e ds. ach

Jim S

Send a beautiful bouquet of magazine flowers, Ten Thousand Villages, $5

April/May 2013


The Ultimate

Energy Makeover
By Andy Lindstrom

ith a touch screen display on his iPhone, Edward Mansouri monitors the electric current generated by 88 solar panels mounted on the roof of his Moore Pond home. Wireless sensors provide Mansouri with real-time contact to his full-service weather station out by the pond, 12 in-house thermostats, 20-camera security system and even soil moisture requirements for another 20 outdoor sprinkler zones. Newly installed double-pane windows, spray foam insulation and a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system hold down utility bills. A central command box controls just about everything from the shades in his home office to the water temperature of his outdoor hot tub. Blending the best of green building practices with his own considerable computer skills, Mansouri has managed to restore the environmental health of an ailing luxury mansion in one of Tallahassees most prestigious neighborhoods without detracting from its showcase image. All while serving his own needs, he said, and the general good as well. Hes really on the top end of energy efficiency while not taking anything away from the settings natural beauty, said Tallahassee builder Mark Worley, who recently completed a five month, $600,000-plus energy makeover of Mansouris five-bedroom, sevenbath two-story home and annex. Even the solar panels face south toward the pond, where they cant be seen from the road. An entrepreneurial innovator with a masters degree in meteorology from Florida State University
Flowers and plants provided by Tallahassee Nurseries.

and bachelors degrees in both meteorology and environmental engineering at Penn State, Mansouri (on the cusp of his 40th birthday) has lived in Tallahassee since 1997. His fascination with weather dates back to early childhood, he said. But while teaching meteorology at FSU, he developed software for teaching any course online. His highly successful business marketing that software has served over two million students since 1999. Although Im not working as a professional meteorologist, weather is still a passion of mine, he said. His backyard weather station automatically updates a Facebook page with the latest conditions and over 200 followers. Once listed at $3.2 million by a previous owner, the 3.35-acre property that Mansouri bought in 2011 sits comfortably in a neighborhood of similar high-end homes. Its Mediterranean-style, 13,800 square feet house offers a number of unique features including a workout complex built for ex-Seminole and professional football quarterback Brad Johnson, an in-house movie theater with plush leather seating and a gaily decorated childrens suite where Ed and wife Virginias three youngsters now spend most of their time. But the asking price took a dramatic tumble after structural issues including water damage and budgetbusting utility bills cut its market value by more than half. After some much-needed upgrades aimed at reining in those high energy costs, Mansouri decided, it might still prove a smart buy. And thats when Worley stepped in. Heading a crew of up to 78 workers, Worley helped Mansouri tackle the energy problems with his full

April/May 2013

kit of environmentally friendly solutions. Along with the solar panels 24,000 watts of daily power (four times the average residential grid system in Tallahassee, Worley said), he installed double-paned, argon-gas windows to block outside heat and hold conditioned air in. Icynene foam insulation seals the ceiling against moisture buildup and helps maintain an even temperature, while a closed-loop geothermal system has replaced less efficient heat pumps. We put in 128 poles, 80 feet deep, so we can tap directly into the grounds constant 70-degree temperature, Worley explained the

long-term benefits of a geothermal setup. It took us ten weeks just to bore the holes. As a final touch, Worley installed LED lighting in place of the original incandescent bulbs. Payback on Mansouris investment, he said, should take fewer than ten years. After that, reduced energy costs will be pure savings. And none of these things have made any difference from an aesthetic point of view, Mansouri added. When I considered the energy demands of the house, the fact that we plan to live here a long time, and that upgrades could be made without impacting its aesthetic beauty, the investment made both financial and practical sense.

8 April/May 2013

88 solar panels mounted on the roof generate 24,000 watts of power dailyfour times the average residential grid system in Tallahassee, according to Mark Worley, who partnered with the Mansouris on their energy makeover quest. The 13,800 square foot home has been made ultra-efficient by wireless sensors that provide real-time contact to a full-service weather station out by the pond, 12 in-house thermostats, 20-camera security system and even soil moisture requirements for another 20 outdoor sprinkler

Mar-12 Apr-12 May-12 Jun-12 Jul-12 Aug-12 Sep-12 Oct-12 Nov-12 Dec-12 Jan-13

Solar kwH
2421.62 3135.35 2624.64 2649.54 2835.34 2390.66 2779.05 2861.9 2260.1 2026.1 2172.01

Estimated value of solar kwH

$510.28 $660.68 $553.06 $558.31 $597.46 $503.75 $585.60 $603.05 $476.25 $426.93 $457.68

City of Tallahassee bill

$1,356.87 $1,120.72 $1,520.44 $1,362.54 $1,567.59 $1,328.77 $1,183.89 $1,067.09 $1,281.68 $1,334.73 $1,395.71

10 April/May 2013

zones. Newly installed double-pane windows, spray foam insulation and a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system hold down utility bills. A central command box controls just about everything from the shades in the home office to the water temperature of the outdoor hot tub. Below is almost a history of the massive energy resources created by the solar panels and the resulting energy bill.

April/May 2013


14 April/May 2013

You can find the Edward Mansouris weather station on Facebook at Moore Pond Weather Station. Like the page and get messages generated by the weather station posted on your news feed Good morning! Its 41.8 F. Todays forecast high is 64 F, and no rain is expected today. And if you need the info on Twitter, follow @MoorePond.

April/May 2013


16 April/May 2013

April/May 2013



Get your ducts in a row


clean my bathrooms and occasionally even my refrigerator. But surely I dont have to clean my air conditioning ducts?
Well, maybe not
According to Patrick Barineau, sales manager at Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning in Tallahassee, There are lots of misconceptions about duct cleaning. We have been cleaning ducts for 15 years, and have certification from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, he says. But that doesnt mean that he thinks you need him to rush over to clean your ducts. If you think your ducts need to be cleaned, Barineau wants to know why they are dirty. We need to deal with that first,

he says. If your house is filled with dust, pollen, or pet dander, you need to find out why. Otherwise the problem will just come back. Properly installed and maintained ducts shouldnt need regular cleaning, says Barineau. The Environmental Protection Agency agrees. According to an EPA publication, Studies [do not] conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. Even if duct cleaning doesnt help much with your allergies, a few studies do show that duct cleaning can save energy. In order to reap the most energy and cost savings, however, it is important to clean and service the entire system, not just the ducts. Research by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers found that dirty coils and blowers can cut efficiency by as much as 40 percent in commercial buildings. If you have problems you think are down to your ductwork, Barineau

suggests getting an evaluation from an HVAC company you trust.

Stop The Leaks

If you are having problems with dust and pollen or other airborne debris in your house, your supply ducts may have holes and gaps. When there are holes in the ducts, something called the Venturi effect causes the system to suck air into the ducts, air that contains all the dust from your attic or basement, and blow it back into your house, explains John Griffin, of Truseal, a Tallahassee company specializing in duct sealing. Leaky ducts can bring in air from outside aswell. If supply ducts leak more than the return, youre sucking moreairout than in, creating negative pressure. In this case all entry points (gaps in doorways and windows, for example) become vacuum points,introducing dust and odors, Griffin explains.

18 April/May 2013

In the old days, duct tape and mastic glue were used to seal the leaks, a timeconsuming procedure that lasted at best a couple of years and often didnt get the leakage low enough to meet Energy Star requirements. These days, a new high-tech process patented as Aeroseal, can easily fix the leaks. Aeroseal injects an aerosol fog made up of atomized molecules into the ductwork. The system is then put under pressure. When the air speeds up as it rushes out the gaps, the molecules bang into the sides of the gaps and burst, releasing a glue that seals the holes. This method can patch holes up to one-half inch wide and any length. The entire process takes about four hours and can get the leakage to under 2 percent, helping you breathe easier, save money, and keep the planet healthy.

An Ounce of Prevention
There are some things you can do to keep your ductwork clean, and they dont involve crawling around in your HVAC system with a feather duster. Follow these tips from the EPA and keep your heating and air-conditioning system in top-notch shape. Use the highest efficiency air filter that is recommended for your system. Change filters regularly. If you find that your filters are becoming clogged, change them more often. Make sure the filters fit properly, with no gaps. Also make sure you arent missing any filters. Have your system maintained regularly and ask your service technician to clean coils and drain pans.
April/May 2013



Cool, Calm, and Collectedthe EnergySparing Passive House

By Marina Brown

he Passive House. How tranquil. How relaxing. And certainly better than a house that may get all aggressive. But in architectural circles, the Passive House is a building innovation unlike its precursors and peersthe Leed-certified houses and buildings that only use solar or alternative energy sources. In fact it sets much higher standards for efficiency. A Passive House is one where energy is not so much created and burnt as harvested and husbanded. And the results from climates where the snow flies 9 months of the year are impressive. Conceived in 1988 by two professors from Sweden and Germany, the original Passivhaus, set strict standards based on energy conservation, heat recovery, and positioning of the structure in relation to the sun. With those principles, the professors say they are able to reduce energy use by 85-90% per household. While Tallahassee may have slipped through a relatively mild winter, many parts of the U.S. have shivered through the cold months and dug out from under mountains of snow. But summer temperatures are expected to continue their globe-threatening rise. Such

extremes of temperature contribute to 90% of U.S. energy consumption from the heating and cooling of buildingsas well as 48% of greenhouse emissions.


But who wants to be trapped in an airless box? An ERV, or energy recovery ventilation system, provides for the flow of air. Picking up heat generated by appliances and the simple movement of people inside the house, heat gain is distributed appropriately throughout the dwelling. In the case of homes in hot climates where cooling is the priority, some of that heat may be directed through tubes placed under the house where it can dissipate, be cooled and then recirculate back through the house.

Corey Saft, a professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, a registered architect, and Leeds specialist, knows all about Passive Houses. Hes built one . Think of it this way, he explains. When you pour hot coffee into a thermos at 8 a.m., itll stay hot till 8 p.m. if you dont open the top. Youve spent energy to heat the liquid one time, and if all that heat remains trapped inside the thermos wrap, you wont have to expend more energy maintaining that internal temperature. The same thing goes for cooling. So first comes the wrapthe insulation and the seal. In Safts 1600 sq. ft house, he sprayed in 1 of open cell foam as well as R 7/11 yellow insulation. Some of the Scandinavian homes used up to 13 of wall insulation and 20 in the ceiling. Before the exterior finish is applied, the house is then externally wrapped in an envelope of insulating material. The idea is an air-tight envelope that isnt subject to the extremes and fluctuations of outside air.

But a Passive House is not all space-age insulation and exotic systems. Some principles are pure common sense. Window placement toward the north and south, rather than following the suns hotter path; orientation of the house toward prevailing breezes; deep overhangs; the use of shades trees or hanging plant walls; and clearstory windows paired with lower floor-placed windows for optimal air flowall make for either fresh ventilation or conservation of internal temperature. With current green buildings reducing energy up to 15-40%, with an average 80% savings, a Passive House starts to look absolutely perky.

20 April/May 2013

Here are some ideas from the Passive House standards that anyone can use in building or even retrofitting a home in warmer climes:
Reduce the amount of the exterior surface area that faces the sun. Use trees, vertical gardens, pergolas, or green roofs for cooling. Choose a reflective paint color for home and roofing. Use triple-pane windows. Utilize the best insulation possible, making sure that air vents, external ducting, etc. are carefully wrapped. Choose from LED, halogen, florescent, or photovoltaic

cell lighting to reduce heat output. As a comparison, a typical house will use 5-15 BTU of energy per sq. ft. per day. A house adhering to Passive House standards brings that down to 1 BTU. Professor Cory Saft built his Passive House in Louisiana and says that though his two-story home cost around $110/sq. ft, he thinks that the average would range approximately 14% higher than a traditionally crafted house. Are such buildings worth it? Passive House believers tell us we should wait and ask our grandchildrenthe folks wholl be dealing with a climate a lot more erratic than our own.

April/May 2013



The high art of The Collection

By Kati Schardl

ouise Lulu Madonia doesnt just think outside the box she rethinks the box itself into something fresh and fun.

other treasures are arranged in appealing, color-coordinated groupings, she gives old things new life and context. Its a Mad Max approach Hey, what can we do with this?, Madonia says. From the clothing to the donated items and building materials, we try to keep as many things as we can that we know we can do something with somewhere along the line. Im a curator of other peoples stuff and we keep the best of the best for the store.

A lifelong thrifter, Madonia brings her creative and canny eye to every item thats placed out on the floor in the shop. To get onto the showroom, I have to have touched it and have to be able to place it where somebody will see what I see in it, she says. Madonia and her crew moved The Collection to its current location on Palmer Street off South Monroe Street in September 2012, but The Collection itself just celebrated its second anniversary. She took over the old Refuge House thrift store on

At her store/performance space/gathering spot, The Collection at Southside, Madonia reigns as Tallahassees fairy godmother of repurposing. From the sidewalk, with its welcoming vegetable and flower garden adorned with re-imagined yard art and blue bricks from the old Chez Pierre location on South Adams Street, to the interior, where furniture, books, art, jewelry, clothing and

22 April/May 2013

Gaines Street in 2011, moved it to a new location on South Adams Street in 2012 and then branched out on her own in the Palmer Street premises, which boasts 5,500 square feet of showroom space and 4,000 square feet of room for intake and storage. Madonia works with the warehouse manager at ECHO, John Hinkle, in a mutually beneficial relationship to swap items that suit each others purposes. All donations to The Collection benefit ECHO in one way or another, and she provides tax receipts for donors dropping off their high-end pieces for repurposing and resale.

recycled materials that were either donated or sourced from Habitat for Humanitys ReStore.

The kitchen is the hearth of our family here at The Collection, she says. We like food, we like to serve people food, the teapot is always going and the coffee pot is at the ready.
Madonia often posts pictures on The Collections Facebook page of luscious lunches she has prepared using veggies from her sidewalk garden and ingredients sourced from local farmers and growers. If you

wander into the store at just the right time, youll be asked to join the crew for lunch at a table set with dishes and tableware from the stores kitchen area. Madonia also encourages folks to bring a book and settle into one of the cozy rooms in the store to read or fire up the laptop to surf the Internet courtesy of The Collections WiFi connection. The store hosts readings, book clubs, salons, personal shopping parties, supper clubs and other gatherings. She hosted a Big Top Partie with a steampunk/Moulin Rouge theme for The Collections second anniversary and customers and newcomers alike mingled in vintage finery and costumes cobbled together from elements purchased at the store.

Creating community
One of the first things Madonia did in the new space was make a kitchen area with

I love the stories of the stuff that comes in, Madonia adds. Its like reincarnation for the people who have passed or are still alive and bring their stuff to donate. Their stories come out every day and are carried on to the next owner.
April/May 2013


Its too nice for it all to be just mine, Madonia says. People are drawn in by the garden, where water from an outdoor sink is recycled to irrigate the plants. Its really important to have that welcoming presence on the street, she says. I always have some kind of garden mixing the veggies with the flowers the veggies for the tummy and the flowers for the eye. And once inside, customers can spend an hour or more wandering from room to artfully arranged room checking out the treasures. Theres something pleasing about a nice display, Madonia says. It gives people ideas. Madonia makes a point of getting to know her customers and looks out for items on their wish lists. She saves frames and bits and pieces that could be used in multi-media installations or mosaic works for area artists. Local cooks know they can find quality goods in the stores kitchen area, and folks who lust for vintage or unusual fabrics have a friend in Lulu. The FSU film school plunders the clothing racks at The

Collection for costumes for film shoots, and display pieces, fabrics and other adornments can be rented out for weddings and parties. There are things I dont want to sell, but if I rent them out, they get used and then come back to me so that everybody can enjoy them, Madonia says. In keeping with her desire to provide the personal connection for shoppers, items are priced by Madonia herself at the time of purchase. This is not a thrift store and I work outside the retail box, she says. I like to bargain as much as the next person and for me, its all about that personal interaction and its all about the service. I love the stories of the stuff that comes in, Madonia adds. Its like reincarnation for the people who have passed or are still alive and bring their stuff to donate. Their stories come out every day and are carried on to the next owner.

ence. She grew up in Titusville and moved to Tallahassee when she was 12, later graduating from Leon High School. Madonia has served in the Air Force and traveled all over the U.S. and the world. She has a son, Dylan, and a menagerie that includes store kitties Frankie and Piper and elder dog Judy. She has worked at everything from caddying on the mens professional European Tour to running a local eatery and establishing a thriving landscape business that she still maintains. The Collection inspires her as much as it does the customers who frequent the store. It keeps mind, body and spirit engaged and alive. Everything I need is here food, gardening and stuff. What else is there in life?

If You Go
The Collection at Southside is located at 231 E. Palmer Ave. Hours vary and can be found posted on the stores Facebook page at, which is accessible even to those without a Facebook account.

The Lulu chronicles

The Collections aesthetic and business model is a sum of Madonias own experi-

24 April/May 2013


Water stories:

Help maintain a healthy water supply and build a beautiful rain garden

he City of Tallahassees Think About Personal Pollution (TAPP) Campaign aims to raise awareness about the pollution individuals contribute to surface water when stormwater carries contaminants from neighborhoods to rivers, lakes and streams. North Floridas unique topography makes a program like TAPP essential because Tallahasseans live above a veritable ocean

of fresh water the Floridan Aquifer the source of our drinking water. The relics of a glacial age that we refer to as sinkholes are part of a system of underground tunnels and caves that connect the ground we walk on with the fresh groundwater below. Springs are the waters from below flowing up. The waters we see (i.e., rivers, lakes, streams) are the places where we are joined to our drinking water. This makes our drinking water supply vulnerable to any

contaminants that make their way into these visible bodies of water. The water cycle does provide some natural filtration. Water that soaks into the ground is filtered before finally reaching the groundwater below. However, the volume of pollution swept away when rain rushes across roofs and pavement is compromising the health of local waters. Wakulla Springs has

26 April/May 2013

long been a site of concern. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also monitoring the amount of pollutants flowing into Upper Lake Lafayette and Lake Munson. Nutrients (chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus) enter water without our help; these elements are in the air and soil. Our habits of over-fertilizing lawns, washing cars on driveways and leaving dog waste on the ground, however, contribute significantly to the problem. TAPP urges two ways to reduce pollution from individuals. First, you can take simple steps to reduce the amount you add to the ground. Re-think fertilizing, and choose wisely if you buy fertilizer. Dont intentionally spill oil or gas on driveways. Always collect dog waste, and learn about your watershed (the area around where you live that drains to a specific waterbody). Second, you can help prevent pollutants from flowing into lakes by dealing with rain water at home before it flows away. Catch rainwater

from your roof in rain barrels. This water can be used to water your grass. You can also direct rain from your property into a basin-garden (i.e., rain garden) to help prevent erosion and soggy places. These gardens also help water filter naturally back to the aquifer. The good news is that these small efforts really do help. Studies show that when citizens engage in small acts of pollution prevention, those actions cumulatively translate into real waterquality improvement. TAPPs website, www., is a great source for learning about other easy, inexpensive ways that you can be part of the clean water revolution! TAPP was initiated as an independent program of the Ochlocknee Soil and Water Conservation District. It is now an important environmental education and outreach program for the City of Tallahassee.

April/May 2013


water you lose nature finds

A rain garden is a landscaped area designed to capture and hold excess rain water for a short period. The garden fills with a few inches of water and allows the water to slowly filter into the ground, recharging the groundwater rather than running off into storm drains and into nearby lakes and streams. Compared to a patch of conventional lawn, a rain garden allows 30% more water to soak into the ground. Capturing stormwater runoff helps prevent pollutantssuch as silt, fertilizer and pesticidesfrom washing off your yard into storm drains and eventually into our water supply. By reducing the amount of water that leaves your property, the rain garden also can help reduce the chances of local flooding. People in many parts of the country are starting to plant rain gardens in their yards. Excess rain water is channeled into low or excavated areas of the yard where the rain garden plants absorb the water or it soaks into the soil. You can help simply by planting

Every drop of
ain Gardens are just what they sound likegardens that soak up rainwatermainly from your roof, but also from your driveway and lawn.

rain gardens in your own yard to collect runoff from your roof, driveway or lawn. Working together, we can help make our water cleanerone yard and one landscape at a time.

Planting a rain garden

The key steps in the process include choosing and sizing the site, selecting appropriate plants, construction, planting and maintenance. You might decide to do some or all of the steps yourself, or you might select a professional landscaping company to help you. However you decide to plant your rain garden, try to keep the design simple. This will help make the garden as affordable as possible and makes it easier for you to be involved in all the steps of planting.

Tips for planting a productive rain garden

Turn the garden construction into a family affair. After preparing a site a few people planting for an hour can be fun for everyone and will allow you to finish in a few hours.

28 April/May 2013

For easy care, the rain garden can be planted with native species.

In the weeks after planting, you may want to keep removing weeds until the mature garden plants crowd them out. A good layer of mulch will help deter weed growth and keep garden soil loose and absorbent. Leave the dead or dormant plants standing over the winter. Many of the plants will provide seeds and shelter for the birds. In the spring, cut back or mow the stalks to allow new shoots to emerge. Installation of a rain garden is slightly more work than a comparable area of lawn, but once the plants have matured, maintenance is low. For more information, contact the Tallahassee Stormwater Management Division at 891-6860 for a copy of Rain Gardens: A How-to Manual for Homeowners or visit the website at

April/May 2013