A growing trend around our country is for homeowners to install rain gardens. A rain garden is a shallow depression that collects rainwater and temporarily stores it until it has time to soak into the ground. With the right soil structure and water loving plants, rain gardens can be both beautiful and environmentally beneficial!
Why are Rain Gardens Gaining in Popularity?
Not only are rain gardens beautiful, but they are very beneficial as well. Rain gardens:
- Naturally filter storm water and replenish the water table.
• Are composed of native plants that require minimal maintenance
• And, provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.
When Considering A Rain Garden…
Rain gardens are generally located at least ten feet away from a house. Their sizes can vary widely depending on how much water is directed into them, but the dimensions for most rain gardens are from 50 to 500 square feet. Directing water to rain gardens can be achieved by grading the soil surface through drainage swales, extending downspouts with above ground piping or hiding pipes through subsurface piping.
An average rain garden can be constructed by digging 16″ deep in the preferred location and filling it with 12″ of an equal mixture of one third topsoil, compost, and sand. To finish the preparation stage, you then add the cover topsoil mixture along with 2″ of bark mulch and install perennials, grasses, trees, or shrubs that do well in a rain garden.
What Plants to Use?
You can find appropriate rain garden plants via the web or local nurseries. Some popular choices include New England Aster, Sneezeweed, Prairie Blazing Star, Blue Lobella, Golden Alexander, Blue Flag Iris, and Sedge Grasses. The addition of bird houses, decorative boulders, or other garden ornaments will make your rain garden unique and personalized.
Why Build a Rain Garden?
Runoff can contain pollutants, sediment and fertilizers. Rain gardens help store and filter water that would otherwise drain into lakes and streams. However, another great reason to have rain gardens is that they can be beautiful and attract a wide array of wildlife. All wonderful reasons to install a rain garden.