June 16, 2022

A rain garden is designed to handle stormwater runoff by collecting and absorbing that water into a shallow depression planted with certain perennials. The storm water will collect in the garden to allow the rest of the lawn to dry more easily. Compared with other styles of lawn drains or dry creek beds, a rain garden can be a beautiful solution to a soggy yard, but establishing one does take some work.

Rudbeckia hirta, commonly called black-eyed Susan flower

Best Soil for a Rain Garden

Heavy clay soil can be frustrating for homeowners who want to avoid soggy yards and areas of pooling, but heavy clay soil will work very well with a rain garden. Not only will the rain garden help solve the lawn drainage issues, but carefully chosen, deep rooted plants will thrive in the heavy, moist soil.

Creating Planting Zones

When you create your rain garden, you want to make sure that the water is running away from your home, not toward your foundation. Your garden should be located downhill and at least 15 feet away from your foundation. Rain gardens are designed to overflow during heavy rain, so make sure that the spillover will be directed a safe distance away from any features such as walkways, hardscapes, and property lines. Your rain garden should be about 1/5 of the size of the area draining to it, so that will help you decide on how big your rain garden will be.

Maintenance Needs for a Rain Garden

In the first year, you will need to focus on maintaining your rain garden. You will want to water regularly during the first growing season to speed up root development and keep the plants healthy. During the first two years, keeping up with weeding is also crucial so the weeds will not choke out the beneficial plants. After the first year or two, you will only need to water during very dry spells, and weeding should only be needed at the edges as the shallow rooted weeds will compete poorly with the deeply rooted Rain Garden plants. The rain garden will be built with topsoil and compost, but mulching can still help reduce weeds, and prevent evaporation during really dry weather.

Best Plants for a Rain Garden

Native plants with deep roots are the best choice for a rain garden, as they will help the water soak into the ground. Ferns, Iris, Milkweed, and Blazing-star are all native wetland plants that will help absorb water. Wild Geraniums, Black-eyed-Susan, Purple-coneflower, and Rose-mallow will add color to your rain garden. You can also design your rain garden to mix larger plants, such as grasses, shrubs, and even certain water-loving trees, to achieve a good balanced landscape, and you can select plants based on when they bloom to ensure you have color throughout the growing season. 

Finding the Right Help to Get Started with Your Rain Garden

Rain gardens can be a beautiful addition to your property and highly beneficial as lawn drainage solutions, but they do take some work to set up. You need the right guidance to get started with your design, materials, and labor when you are beginning your rain garden. Although there is plenty of information available online, the best way to establish your rain garden is to work with a landscape expert who can assess your property, your soil makeup, and your drainage, to determine the best way to implement your vision. The right landscape expert has everything you need to start your rain garden correctly for the best possible results.

A rain garden may be the perfect solution to your drainage issues while adding a beautiful piece of landscaping to your property. With the right plan and expert guidance, your rain garden can be the focal point of your yard and address issues related to poor draining clay soil. To learn more about how to get started, contact Twin Oaks Landscape today.