Rain gardens are a beautiful way to divert stormwater from the storm drain and add to the aesthetic appeal of your landscape at home or your business location. Rain gardens help absorb excess stormwater keeping it out of the storm drain and thus reducing erosion or flooding in our waterways. Instead, the rain water helps the plants in your garden grow and provides a beautiful feature in your yard!
How to Make Your OWn Rain Garden:
Step 1: Sizing and Siting
- At least 10 ft beyond the foundation of your house
- Positioned downhill from a downspout
- Size and depth will vary depending on the amount of rain normally received, soil type, and available yard space
Step 2: Constructing
- Prepare the selected area by removing all grass and roots before digging
- Create a level bottom across the entire area of the rain garden
- The lower side of the rain gardens should be built up to form a berm, or a dam, preventing water from flowing out of the rain garden
- Cover any exposed soil after digging to prevent dirt from washing away and erosion from occurring before the grass and plants take root
Step 3: Planting and Maintaining
- Select plants with varying heights, shapes, textures, and bloom times
- Include grasses and sedges with your flowers so plants follow their normal growth patterns and don’t outcompete each other
- Like any new garden, it will need more attention in the beginning, but after the first year, the garden’s needs will reduce to those of a normal garden
Benefits of Rain Gardens:
The aesthetic pleasure brought by rain gardens is a major benefit not only for the homeowner, but for the entire neighborhood. As mentioned above, choosing plants with different heights, shapes, and bloom times can make a rain garden more visually appealing.
Rain gardens also provide a habitat for birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects. While you may be worried about mosquitoes using your rain garden as a breeding ground, you shouldn’t be! The water is filtered into the ground too quickly by the plants in your rain garden to be a viable place for mosquitoes to hatch.
Rain gardens increase the amount of rain water that gets filtered into the ground, which improves groundwater.
Rain gardens are also great for preventing urban stormwater pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil, and other fluids from cars, from reaching our waterways.
By filtering excess stormwater into the ground, rain gardens can prevent flooding issues in yards and communities. They can also help prevent storm drains from getting clogged.
More Information on Rain Gardens:
- Create the perfect rain garden with this Department of Natural Resources Rain Gardens Brochure.
- Learn more about how you can add a rain garden through the UW Extension’s step-by-step, fully illustrated guide to designing and installing a rain garden.
- Get inspired by the variety of colors, styles, and plants highlighted in the City of Madison’s guide on rain garden designs and layouts.