Take a look outside next time it’s raining. Is there a spot in your yard where water always puddles? Do you have trouble with water gathering around your foundation? Luckily, a rain garden is an easy and attractive way to handle the issue, and it has the added benefit of helping the environment.
Rain gardens also keep rainwater runoff out of the streets and storm drains, which reduces pollution and roadway flooding. Gardens and soil act as a slow filter for the rainwater, preventing sediment, chemicals, nutrients and more from washing into storm drains and out into the environment.
Additionally, by helping the rain water drain through soil instead of pooling up, you will be reducing mosquito breeding grounds. Mosquitoes need standing water and at least 7-10 days to breed. Rain gardens can drain the area in 24-48 hours.
Ready to create a rain garden? Identify a low point in the landscape. Consider the conditions that the plants will be in. Is it shady most of the day? Or will it get full sun?
Do an inspection of areas where water normally runs off. This could be around gutter downspouts, eaves, or porch overhangs. Trace where water goes from there. If it is collecting in a puddle and not draining away, consider creating a trench to direct the water to your rain garden. Some people choose to bury a pipe from the bottom of a downspout directly to their rain garden.
Excavate the low area that will be your rain garden so that the lowest point is about 6” deep. Your rain garden can be as large or small as you want, but make sure it is at least 10 feet away from your home or building.
Find native flowers and grasses that will tolerate “wet feet” and will flourish in the sun/shade conditions of the garden. Local nurseries or extensions can assist in identifying native plants that will thrive.
After planting flowers and grasses, consider adding river rock or gravel as a top layer to keep soil in place. You can also edge the rain garden with bricks or pavers for a more formal look.