Make Your Contribution to a Sustainable Future: Build a Rain Garden!


Make the Most of All This Rain; Build a Rain Garden!

A rain garden is a garden of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns. Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff. Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground.

Why Build a Rain Garden?
Every time it rains, water runs off impermeable surfaces, such as roofs or driveways, collecting pollutants such as particles of dirt, fertilizer, chemicals, oil, garbage, and bacteria along the way. The pollutant-laden water enters storm drains untreated and flows directly to nearby streams and ponds.

Rain gardens collect rainwater runoff, allowing the water to be filtered by vegetation and percolate into the soil recharging groundwater aquifers. These processes filter out pollutants.

Planning your Rain Garden
The first step is to identify an appropriate location on your property for constructing the rain garden. Consideration must be given to where the water will enter, how it will fill up the rain garden, and where it will flow out. Remember that you will want to control how the rain garden overflows during a large storm. Where will the water go when it overflows? Consider the impact of this potential overflow, and try to minimize it by directing the overflow towards grassy areas, wooded areas, or existing storm drains. Make sure that the rain garden will neither drain towards your foundation, nor towards the neighboring property.

How to build your Rain Garden:
  1. Remove existing grass
  2. Excavate to desired elevation and grade
  3. Add soil amendments
  4. Prepare berm (if necessary)
  5. Prepare overflow
  6. Level the base (lowest area)
  7. Plant native species
  8. Apply mulch

For more information on Building a Rain Garden, call your nearest Bountiful Gardens to schedule a free in-store consultation.

For additional online resources, visit the Rutgers Water Resources Rain Garden Information Center


Planting in Your Rain Garden
  • Plants that prefer wet conditions should be planted in the deepest part (the base) of the rain garden where water will collect. Plants that prefer average or drier conditions should be planted along the edges of the rain garden.
  • Create depth in the rain garden by placing large and tall plants in the back and smaller plants in the front.
  • Plant masses of the same species together in odd numbers (generally three or five containers per species).
  • Incorporate plants that have visual interest in the fall and winter. Grasses and evergreens can work well in a rain garden, and they provide color and interest in the colder months.
  • Native plants provide habitat to animals and require less watering, and there are quite a few deer-resistant native plants species.
Our Recommendations
Joe Pye Weed

Black Eyed Susan

Purple Coneflower

Swamp Milkweed

Elderberry

Switchgrass

White Turtlehead

Cardinal Flower

White Dwarf Fothergilla

Lady Fern

Tussock Sedge

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