Why Are Rain Gardens Important?

With all the rain and flooding we have been receiving in our area of late, it may be a good idea to consider building a rain garden! A rain garden is designed to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, that are found in storm water runoff. Rain gardens are ideally built close to the source of the runoff and serve to slow the storm water as it travels downhill.

Top five reasons to build a rain garden:

  1. Reduce stream flooding and storm drain overflow.
  2. Reduce pollution sedimentation in our waterways.
  3. Provide habitat for wildlife (butterflies, honey bees and birds).
  4. Rain gardens allow water to filter into the ground rather than running along the surface.
  5. Increase property value and curb side appeal.

How to create your own rain garden in four easy steps:

Find a location

Place the garden at least 10 feet away from your home to prevent flooding in your house. Do not locate the garden over a septic field. You should try to choose a naturally occurring low spot in your yard or position the garden where your downspouts or sump pump outlet can be used to direct rainwater into your garden. If you are building the rain garden in a low spot in your yard you do not need to measure the drainage area. Just ensure the area receives water regularly during a rainstorm. If you are capturing water from a roof or other hard surface you will need to measure the specific drainage area of that surface and multiply by the number associated with the type of soil you have.

Create a design and choose your plants

Plan your garden on paper first, you will be able to create the best appearance possible for your rain garden. Native plants are suggested for rain garden installations because they are best adapted for your climate. You will want to choose plants (flowers and grasses) that will grow well in both wet and dry areas because the rain garden will temporarily fill with rainwater from time to time.

Dig the garden

Remove the turf grass and dig your garden approximately 6-8 inches deep. Layer in 2 inches of gravel and mix native soil with nutrient rich soil for your plants. Layer an inch of compost and top with 2-3 inches of mulch after planting.

Water and arrange downspouts

After you’ve planted the garden, water every other day for a couple weeks until the garden looks to be growing. Good water techniques and maintenance is the key to a quality rain garden.