A rain garden is not a new term but it has become more popular in recent years. Many people are becoming more eco-friendly and a rain garden is one of the best things you can do for your local environment.
If you are interested in rain gardens, read more below and learn how to make your own.
What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a depression that is designed to hold water and soak it into the soil. It’s not supposed to be deep and you can and should plant plenty of plants there so they can absorb that water and grow from it.
This is one of the key features of having an eco-friendly garden and it’s an important solution for the rainwater and stormwater runoff as well as pollution.
Most of the rain that falls goes to the nearest pipe and it washes plenty of pollution on the way while leaving impurities in the soil. A rain garden is there to counter the runoff and to reduce the crud levels in urban or suburban areas.
These work in most climates but they work best where there is natural groundwater or in areas with deep soil that can drink in the water. Rocky areas may be less effective.
There are also many different rain garden designs all over the internet so you can get inspired easily. Building a rain garden is fairly simple as well.
In essence, it’s not supposed to be the only feature in your garden, but rather a beginning of a great garden design. A rain garden should easily fit into the landscape and support the local biodiversity and plant life.
So, the point is to first take into account the plants that grow in your area natively and then consider plants that may not be from your area but are really water-tolerant.
Here are some plants to consider:
- Cardinal flower
- Swamp milkweed
- Swamp mallow
- Black-eyed Susan
- Joe Pye weed
What are The Benefits of Having a Rain Garden?
There are many benefits to planting your own rain garden. Here are some of them you should know about:
- Reduce mosquito breeding
- Filter the pollution from runoff
- Save water
- Recharge groundwater
- Remove the standing water in your garden (which could damage your home structure)
- Reduce maintenance in your garden
- Improve the number of good insects that eliminate pests
- Improve the quality of water and protect rivers and streams from pollution
- Reduce the chances of your home flooding
- Create a great place for butterflies and birds to live in
- Help your plants survive the drought
- Improve the look of your home and the enjoyment you’ll have in your garden
Step-by-step Guide To Your Own Rain Garden
So, now that you know just how amazing rain gardens can be for your own home, you can learn how to make them. This project will nurture the land in your garden and protect your environment.
First off, here’s what you’ll need to make your very own rain garden:
- 1 – ½ in. river rock
- Decorative rocks
- Landscape fabric
- A PVC pipe
Step #1: Planning and Details
Your rain garden should be built in a low spot in your yard. Then you should plan the channels for the rainwater from the gutter to the rain garden. Check the slope with a level and a straight board. If there is no slope, you should dig it up and create it.
The garden should be at least 10 ft. away from the home to protect your foundation. If you put it any closer, it can saturate the land close to the foundation, it can damage it. The water that’s already pooling around your home can be eliminated with the clever use of PVC pipes.
Determine the size and depth of your garden. Use your garden’s history to understand how quickly the garden will fill up so you can make it big and deep enough. You want to capture as much water as will absorb into the soil in the 24 hours after heavy rain.
Select the plants as well. Make sure that the plants do very well in the water. So, you can plant any of the mentioned greenery from the list above or go with aster, daylily, sedium, coneflower, iris, artemisia, and so on.
Position plants that can take a lot of water into the lowest parts of your rain garden. On higher parts and the edges, you should plant some plants that can grow in average or dry conditions.
Select native plants first, with deep root systems.
Step #2: Do the digging
Once you have the entire plan worked out, it’s time to dig. If you already have the low point in your garden, digging won’t be necessary. You can then set up the pipe and the river rock system that will lead the water from your gutters to the rain garden
Step #3: Plant
Get the flowers and plants that you like and plant them according to their requirements. They can make your garden look amazing with that fantastic curb appeal. Not to mention, it’s great for the environment.
Rain Garden Ideas
Rain Garden in a Tub
So, you are not sure if your yard has enough space for your rain garden? No problem! Rain gardens can be as big or as small as you want them to be. The point is that the water doesn’t run off into the sewers and that it serves to grow some great plants.
In that spirit, you can take the pipe from your gutters and into a large tub filled with soil and plants you like.
Just make sure that your tub is large enough for the amount of water that usually hits your gutters. The same rules apply to growing this garden as growing an uncontained garden.
So, maintain it and make sure that all of the plants are capable of living in the wet conditions.
Rain Garden as a Focal Point
Rain garden doesn’t have to be just one part of your garden but it can be the focal point of your garden.
Just make sure that you follow the basic rules of building a rain garden and that it actually serves the purpose it was meant to serve. You can really make a stunning focal point with this garden.
You can build a gazebo next to it and have fun when it’s raining or even turn parts of your gazebo into a rain garden with hanging pots.
Zen Rain Garden
Zen gardens are super relaxing and calming in any situation. And your rain garden can become a zen garden, at least in part. Take a piece of your garden and design it in a way that accounts for the zen garden. Then fill it with loose gravel and ornamental rocks.
Plant some water-loving flowers and greenery around your zen garden to protect it from the water.
How To Maintain Your Rain Garden
Maintenance of rain gardens is not as hard as for general flower beds but it still exists. Here are some essential tips on maintaining your rain garden:
- You should be really attentive with your garden in the first year. Weed regularly
- Dig a notch in the berm on the low side for the first year because young plants can’t handle large volumes of water
- Add decorative rocks at the entrance of your garden to prevent heavy rain from killing the young plants
- When there are dry spells, you should water your garden for about an inch of depth a week
- Native species are a lot more tolerant to dry spells when they mature
- Weed frequently to allow plants to grow
- Fill in so that future weeds can’t grow
- Remove all dead growth at the start of every season
- Once they are established, they are a lot easier to maintain and grow