Creating a Rain Garden

Rain harvesting
Harvest the water from your downspouts and move it into a rain garden.

When it rains, your plants are always happy about the weather. Water is an essential and precious part of your garden ecosystem. Whether you get a lot of rain or just a little, you can make the most of the water you get by using it in a rain garden.

What is a Rain Garden?

If you love the zip of dragonflies and birdsong from wetlands, why not create a miniature wetland in your own garden? A rain garden uses the rain you get to create a natural wetland near your home. This allows you to grow plants that might not normally thrive in your garden. In places that receive a lot of rain, a rain garden is a way to slow down the movement of water into the soil, filtering it through plants before it moves into the ground or into drains.

Finding a Site For a Rain Garden

To create a rain garden, you need to determine what areas in your garden receive abundant and underused water. If you have a driveway that slopes down to the street, the water may move quickly down the driveway into the street drains. You can move that water into wetland areas at the end of the slope instead, slowing down the water and using it before it moves into the drains.

You may also have natural valleys in your landscape. Instead of getting annoyed at that damp area on your lawn, why not use it as a bed to grow plants that would otherwise not thrive in your environment? Natural hollows are the perfect place for a rain garden.

Another common place to put a rain garden is under a drain. You may have downspouts that move water into drainage systems under the ground, or you might have rain barrels to collect this water. When you have an area that’s an awkward fit for a rain barrel, you can place a rain garden there instead. Use piping to direct downspout water into a rain garden, or place the piping into a long hollow or swale that ends in a garden bed. Make sure that you direct water away from the foundation before it settles into the rain garden.

Rain garden
Rushes, sedges, and grasses that enjoy marginal environments often do well in a rain garden.

Plants For Your Rain Garden

While your plant choice will depend on the place where you live, native wetland plants are the ideal fit for rain gardens. Choose plants that grow on wetland margins, because these plants are used to alternating between wet and dry conditions. Ferns love moisture and thrive under the shady eaves of a house. Choose ferns with thick, waxy leaves that can also survive periods of low water. Native grasses, sedges, and rushes will love your rain garden, and they develop deep root systems that allow them to survive short drought periods. Flowers such as iris grow along the edges of wet places, where the soil alternates between wet and dry. These plants will tolerate periods of low moisture and periods of flooding.

Design Landscaping to Support Your Rain Garden

When you’re designing your garden landscape, do it with water in mind. When you’re embarking on a gutter installation, make sure that the water can flow freely through your gutters and into downspouts and pipes to the garden. Plan your garden landscape so that the most water-loving plants get watered naturally by the runoff from driveways and roofs, and you’ll find that you have lower maintenance needs and that you use less water in the garden.

When you’re designing your garden landscape, contact Harry Helmet. Our Gutter Helmet prevents gutters from clogging, improving the drainage into your garden. Contact us today to get more information about how Gutter Helmet can help simplify your home maintenance and beautify your garden.

Written by Del Thebaud

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