Building a Rain Garden – What You Need to Know

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You may never have imagined that creating a different type of garden space in your yard could help solve problems you may have with water collecting around your property every time there is heavy rain. The fact is that building a rain garden can be a big help.

Just like you trim your garden to keep pests at bay, or create a compost heap to help provide organic nutrients for your plants, you can create a space that helps you deal with excess water simply by using specific plants.

Featured Image via Ahmed zayan@zayyerrn

Image via Annie Spratt@anniespratt

 

  • What is a rain garden?

 

A rain garden is a simple means of using plants to direct water from areas such as a roofspace into the ground, and away from your home. The plants you use in the garden are specially chosen for being deep rooted. This means that they draw the water away through the soil rapidly, so it has no time to gather. The water is directed to the garden, from downspouts and waterbutts, by using a stone channel or plastic pipe.

 

  • Where to build your rain garden

 

There are certain things that you need to think about when you are deciding where to build a rain garden.

  • There needs to be a slight incline so that water will flow to the garden; more than two per cent and less than ten per cent.
  • Choose an area where it’s easy to lay pipe, or a stone channel, to take water to the garden.
  • Make sure the rain garden is at least ten feet away from your home so there is no risk of water backing up close to the foundations. It should also ideally be around thirty feet from downspouts so that the water flow is smooth.
  • There should be space for an overflow zone filled with stones where excess water can run off during heavy rainstorms. Never locate the run off close to any properties.
  • Check what is underground as you should never build a rain garden over utility lines.

Image via Robert Nelson@iambobnelson

 

  • How deep should the rain garden be?

 

Your garden should be the depth of how much water can drain into the soil in twenty-four hours. Dig a medium sized hole in the soil where the garden is to be built and fill it with water. Measure the depth of water that drains away in an hour and use this measurement to calculate how much would drain away in twenty-four hours. For instance, if an inch drains in an hour, twenty-four inches should drain in twenty-four hours, so the garden should be two foot deep.

Image via James@whoshotthephotographer

 

  • How big should a rain garden be?

 

It’s important to note that you do not have to be exact with the size of a rain garden. Smaller gardens can be very effective in getting rid of excess water. However, if you want your rain garden to be as effective as possible, it’s worth taking time to calculate the optimum size.

It takes time to plan a rain garden but the results can help keep your yard free from excess water build-up, as well as protecting the foundations of your home.

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