No matter how good your gutter system and ground drainage may be, there still may come a time when excess water can become an issue. Given the proper maintenance, regulating the extra water flow requires minimal effort. When heavy or sudden rains occur, most of the water goes straight to the neighborhood drain. Some households even have rain harvesting devices such as a rain barrel which is becoming a fast growing trend. There is another alternative to dealing with sudden heavy water…a rain garden!
A rain garden is an excellent alternative to use the excess rainwater our gutters collect. This is one of the best and creative ways to handle water runoff. It’s designed to contain water temporarily and gradually absorb it. It drains within a couple of days so it’s typically not a breeding ground for mosquitoes. A rain garden is dug up, removing up to a foot of soil and mixed with sand and compost to maximize water absorption. It’s extremely easy to maintain and adds to the nature-friendly look of your home. The best thing about a rain garden is you can actually make one yourself at little to no cost.
It’s a good idea to test the soil where you are planning to set your garden up. Dig a small hole of about 6 inches where you want to place your rain garden. Try putting water in it and see if it dries up after a day. If it takes more than a day to dry up then a rain garden might not be the best idea for that spot.
Where should you put your rain garden? Well, it’s best to set up rain gardens near your downspouts, at least 10 feet away to prevent any seepage to your house foundation. Don’t place it under trees or near sewage systems and make sure it gets adequate sunlight. The size should be about 20% the size of the roof. On average, rain gardens range from 100 to 300 square feet.
What should your rain garden consist of? Shrubs, wildflowers and perennials are the best plants to put here. They don’t require fertilizers and need minimal maintenance. You could even transplant existing plants from other areas in your yard and plant them in your rain garden.
Make sure you dig deep enough and fill it in with the proper mixture of soil which is typically 60% sand, 20% compost and 20% topsoil. You can use shovels or rakes for digging. If the land is on a slope, make a berm on the bottom of the slope so that it can hold the water. A berm acts as a wall for the lower side of the rain garden. To prevent this from eroding you can cover it with grass to keep it intact.
Once you have the area pinpointed, the tools needed to build your rain garden and the plants you want in your garden you’re ready for the fun part, designing it! Let your creative juices flow. You can put stones, fences and other ornamental plants. Make it as simple or ornate as you want it. In most cases a rain garden is shaped like a kidney or like a small pond.
Rain gardens work hand in hand with your gutter system. Not only does the rain garden collect most of the water, it makes the most out of it rather than just letting it flow away from the house. It’s aesthetically pleasing too!