How To Make A Rain Garden

Rainwater can cause serious damage to your home. It can erode the dirt messing with your home’s foundation, kill grass, end up flooding your basement and a lot more. Maintaining your gutters is critical in reducing the amount of rainwater runoff that happens during rainstorms. But rainwater runoff happens in more areas than just your roof, like sidewalks, driveways and other areas of your yard. A rain garden is a tactic that can help protect your home and yard from water damage and pollution. We’ll talk about the benefits and walk you through the process of how to make a rain garden!

What Is A Rain Garden?

A rain garden is a collection of vegetation with naturally deep reaching roots that is placed in your yard in an area that experiences rainwater runoff from your roof, sidewalks and driveways. The plants will utilize the water to help with drainage, runoff, and erosion, ultimately protecting your home and the environment by reducing water pollution. It’s an eco friendly, safe and beautiful addition to your yard!

Where Do You Put A Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are dug and placed 10 feet away from your home (if you have a basement) in an area that experiences a lot of water runoff. The rain garden should be kept away from septic tanks, wells or steep slopes as well. It’s best to not place large rain gardens under trees, in an effort to keep the tree’s roots safe. You’ll want to direct downspouts to your rain garden. A good test is to dig a 6 to 8 inch hole in an area of your yard and fill with water. If the water drains well, that place is suitable for a rain garden. You do not want to place in an area where water pools for a long period of time.

What Are The Benefits?

Here is a list from the Rain Garden Network!

  1. Filter Runoff Pollution

  2. Recharge local groundwater

  3. Conserve water

  4. Improve water quality

  5. Protect rivers and streams

  6. Remove standing water in your yard

  7. Reduce mosquito breeding

  8. Increase beneficial insects that eliminate pest insects

  9. Reduce potential home flooding

  10. Create habitat for birds and butterflies

  11. Survive drought seasons

  12. Reduce garden maintenance

  13. Enhance sidewalks appeal

  14. Increase garden enjoyment

  15. What Type Of Plants Should You Put In A Rain Garden?

The type of shrubs, trees, conifers and perennials that you decide to plant in your rain garden will be determined by what is native to your area. Again, you want something with deep roots, so no succulents! :) The plants you put in will need to withstand brief periods of standing water, but also tolerate periods of dryness. It’s best to go to a local nursery and ask what they recommend for your area.

How To Make A Rain Garden

1. Find your location

See above for where an optimal rain garden spot is! Still not sure? Wait for the next rainstorm and go out and inspect your yard!

2. Figure out how big your rain garden should be

You do this by determining the area of surface that will drain into your garden. Rain gardens vary in sizes, it just depends on the size of your yard and the location! Will areas of your roof, sidewalk or yard drain into it, or just the downspout? That will help determine how big you need it.

3. Stake out the area!

4. Determine depth

The depth is determined by the slope of the area. A flat area can be as little as 3 to 5 inches deep or 6 to 10 inches deep on a slope. If you are going add in compost then add 2 inches of depth. Excavating deeper is recommended, some say 16 to 24 inches down.

5. Dig out the garden area and level the bottom

wikiHow has a great tutorial on how to level a rain garden!

6. Add organic matter if desired!

Organic matter is compost, it can loosen the soil, making it easy for the plants to take root and develop strong roots! wikiHow recommends 2 to 3 inches of compost at the bottom of your rain garden.  

7. Level again!

Once you add the compost you’ll want to make sure that everything is level again. Don’t compact the soil by walking around too much on it, it does not have to be perfect. Some blogs recommend placing a 2x4 board on the ground and filling in or digging out areas that do not seem level.

8. Create A Berm (raised dirt border)

You’ll want to border the rain garden with dirt to make it even and make sure rain water stays in. If you’re on a slope, you’ll want the bottom and top of the slope to be even in height. The berm should not be higher than the uphill edge, this will make the rain garden retain too much water. Make sure to compact the dirt by using a shovel or tamper.

9. Plant your native plants!

As discussed earlier, you’ll need to do some research or visit a local nursery to determine which plants will be best.

10. Add a layer of mulch

Mulch helps plants retain moisture and keeps weeds down. Two inches of heavier mulch will be a great start. You don’t want too light of mulch because it will just wash away.

11. Plant a ground cover or grass on the berm

This will help keep the berm in place.

12. Water your plants!

Whenever you plant a new plant it is very important to water! Care for your new plants as you would any other plant, but be sure to check the weather and not over water :)

We hope you found this tutorial on how to plant a rain garden helpful! Happy planting! Have any additional tips or hints? Comment below!


Mark RamseyComment