What Is a Rain Garden and How to Create One?

There are plenty of ways you can work on reducing water pollution, but one of the best and most beautiful ones you see will be rain gardens. A rain garden is a basin or bowl that captures rainwater from sidewalks, roofs, driveways and so forth that allows it to soak into the soil instead of carrying runoff pollution into any local watersheds, as is the case with storm water runoff. As an added bonus to it all rain gardens can be planted with an assortment of native plants as they make for a great and low maintenance garden you can enjoy. You do not have to be a professional gardener to create a rain garden. This is an easy landscaping project that does not require too much garden maintenance skills. Let’s point out the beginning of the tasks ahead:

  • Begin by finding a suitable location for the garden. The easiest is to install a rain garden in an area where you already have water flowing on through. The idea is to reduce runoff, so you can identify a good area by examining the yard during rains to see the way the water flows at that time.
  • Figure out the size of the rain garden you will be going for. The ideal gardening area will depend on the area you will see water draining into as well as the soil of the area.
  • Plotting out the garden plan is a good start, so get some graph paper sheets and a design program if you feel like it. Keep in mind that these gardens will usually work best if they are curved and a bit irregular in shape.
  • Stake out the gardening area with stakes and string or even a hose if you feel like it, marking the perimeter of your chosen garden.
  • Determine the depth of your garden, as the ideal depth will depend on the slope of your gardening area.
  • Digging out the garden area to your chosen depth should be the next step, as it is important to get the bottom of the rain garden made as evenly as possible, ensuring the runoff will spread without pooling. Work in 5 foot sections to ensure greater accuracy while you dig.
  • If the garden is situated in a level area, driving a stake at each end of the garden as well as running a string between the stakes will help make things work better. Make sure the string is taut and either touching the ground or almost touching it.
  • Adding compost will be a good move, depending on the type of soil. It can loosen the soil, enhancing permeability and making it easier for plants to root in and grow healthier.
  • Level out the bottom of the basin once you dug the entire area to its necessary depth. You can use a board with a carpenter’s level to figure out whether it is levelled or not.
  • You should also work on building a berm to keep the water inside. Rain gardens will not work right if the water just flows right out of them, so you will need to build a berm if you have a slope of any kind. Berms are essentially earth dams around the downhill edge and the sides of your garden. If you have any soil left from your previous digging, this will be the time to use it.
  • Use all manner of perennial plants around the gardening area, choosing native ones whenever you can as they will need much less garden care. Plants in a rain garden will need to thrive in moist soil and have great tolerance to influxes of water, so keep that in mind.
  • Add a good layer of mulch to the whole thing, as a simple layer of that will keep the weeds down and will help the plants have a good beginning. You should be careful to avoid the submerging of the crowns of the new plants. Heavier types of mulch such as those made of wood chips, pine straw or even shredded wood will be preferable to the lighter kinds of mulches because lighter materials will easily be displaced, floating away in an overflow.
  • Planting a ground cover of grass on the berm will be another good step. This will be a good way to reinforce the berm and to prevent erosion in the process. It will also be important at the top of your rain garden, as it will slow water down as well as siltation and disturbance in the garden.