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A Practical Guide to Building Your Own Rain Garden

Rain gardens are a wonderful and natural way to keep floodwater out of your house. Not only is it a reservoir for your roof and yard runoff, but it can also be a stunning flower bed that can bring a new level of serenity into your yard. If your property is prone to flooding, building a rain garden is a natural way to keep floodwater at bay. Here is a guide for building your own rain garden.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a shallow, depressed part of your landscape that can help collect floodwater from the driveway of the street or your roof. The garden soaks the water into the ground, and it’s usually planted with a variety of flowering perennials and grasses. It’s a cost-effective way to keep water from flooding your home and property during the rainy season. If you love gardening, then building a rain garden should not be too much of a challenge—consider it an extension of what comes naturally to you.

What tools and materials are needed?

  • Level
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Spade
  • 1-1/2-in. river rock
  • PVC pipe
  • Decorative rocks and boulders
  • Native plants and grasses
  • Landscape fabric

garden drain

A step-by-step guide to planting a rain garden

Consider getting rid of mosquitoes on your property first. Stagnant water is the best place for mosquitoes to breed, and you might be surprised by just how little water is needed for them to do so. They don’t need a full wheelbarrow or a massive pond for them to be able to reproduce. So if you want to keep mosquitoes at bay before you even build your garden, consider having every trace of them eradicated before you start. Employ the services of mosquito control experts to get rid of these pests before you start.

Next, you need to choose the best possible site for your rain garden. Here are some considerations you need to look into:

  • Make sure it’s at least 10 feet away from your main house.
  • Choose a naturally low spot in your yard. Make sure that there is a natural slope in the area—at least one percent grade—leading from where the water usually collects, like your driveway or roof, down to where you want to build the rain garden. A naturally low area will help prevent you from having to do too much digging.
  • It should be a spot that often collects floodwater after heavy rain pour.
  • The area should also ideally receive a lot of sunlight, but half a day of sunlight is a good minimum.

After choosing the perfect site, it’s time to prepare the soil. Dig a shallow depression approximately six inches deep. The hole should be sloped in the sides, and it should slope from the outside edge to the depression’s deepest area. The whole point is that it should not just be a regular hole. Stormwater must slowly percolate through the rain garden, and having a slope is key to that. As for the size of your rain garden, you can calculate the perfect size based on the garden’s distance from your house, your soil type, and the surface area of the roof, but any size for your rain garden is fine and can do the job.

Now that you have a depression to work with, choose plants and flowers native to your region. This is because native plants can withstand challenging environmental conditions, and they will require little care from you as a gardener. When choosing the flowers, think of the bloom time, color, and height. Combine various ornamental grasses with colorful and perennial wildflowers to make sure that your rain garden has a strong foundation in terms of root mass, helping it avoid weed growth.

Once the flowers and plants are firmly planted, water them once every other day for the first two weeks. But once the rainy season comes, they must be able to thrive without too additional watering. You also don’t need fertilizers, and you don’t need to worry too much about doing a lot of weeding. When winter comes, the plants will serve as food and cover for various kinds of wildlife. During spring, you can knock back some weeds and burn off the dead material to stimulate new growth.

Building a rain garden in your yard is an eco-friendly way to protect your property from floodwater that can damage it. Consider making it a backyard project this summer with the help of the guide here, and watch as it protects your home from damage during the rainy season.

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