Learn How to Build a Rain Garden (And What Are Its Benefits)

Water is not a limitless resource, so we must always consume it cleverly. When designing a garden, it’s important to think about the water you will be using and avoid wasting it. Some plants might require plenty of irrigation, so finding an alternative source is always welcoming. If you want to remain eco-friendly and still have a stunning backyard, learn how to build a rain garden.

What Is a Rain Garden?

Before starting the project, you should first know everything about rain gardens. Just like its name suggests, this type of landscape has a design that collects water runoff. You can get rid of sewers and other drainage systems and replace them with a deeper hole at the center of the garden. This is where the water can gather.

Instead of using irrigation systems or other watering methods, your plants can feed directly from rainwater. However, you should be careful with your vegetal selections. These plants must be native to your area. This means they are used to survive in natural conditions and do not require a special watering schedule. Also, they should cope with excess water and filter it according to their needs.

Why Choose a Rain Garden?

Before learning how to build a rain garden, you should know why building it is a good idea. First of all, this solution is a lot more economic. Whenever you had to water your plants, you consumed plenty of this precious resource. Now, you’ll no longer need to take it from your water system.

Secondly, you can avoid pollution as well. It turns out rainwater brings a lot of waste to rivers. If you control this rainwater, you can keep pollutants from reaching the main streams. In the end, rain gardens resemble natural ecosystems and are also a way to encourage native plants to grow. Thus, you will create a landscape that is friendly for wildlife and, on top of that, it is extremely low maintenance.

How to Build a Rain Garden

There are not many steps you need to know when learning how to build a rain garden. The process is not that complicated, but having everything set from the beginning will make things even easier. Here are some of the basic things you need to know.

1.      Choose the Location of the Garden

The landscape won’t occupy your entire backyard, so it’s better to choose the exact place where you’ll build it. Do not forget you’ll be handling rainwater, so the spot should be about 10 feet away from your house. This way, you’ll avoid floods or erosion on the structure of the building.

Before starting the building, you can study rainwater and find the best place where it drains. This might be your ideal spot. If you have a slope in your backyard or a naturally occurring hole, it’s even better. If not, you can build it on your own.

2.      Build the Slope

This step applies only if you do not have a natural slope in your garden. This slope or hole needs to be deep enough to gather rainwater. For this, you’ll need a slope of at least 2 percent. Regarding measurements, this should have a depth of 1 inch in 4-1/2 feet. This way, water will not overflow, and you will have plenty of it to feed the plants.

Before learning how to build a rain garden, you should make sure your soil is suitable for this construction. For instance, if you have a hard soil with poor drainage, the feature might not be the best choice. Loamy soils work pretty well for rain gardens, but the ideal choice is sandy soils.

Rain garden growing over a circular slope, garden design, rain garden, gardening

3.      Put up the Garden Design

Before you start building the garden, you should know how it will look like. Draw the design carefully on a paper. This way, you’ll know everything you need to do. Your rain garden will look a lot better if you have taken care of all the details beforehand.

4.      Choose the Plants for Your Rain Garden

A rain garden resembles a natural ecosystem quite a lot, so native plants are the ideal choice for it. These species can survive without a special irrigation schedule, can cope with extra humidity, but are also used to extreme dryness. Also, make sure you don’t start the garden with seeds.

It will be hard for them to grow in such conditions, so it’s better to purchase plants that have already reached maturity. Therefore, perennial plants are a lot more suitable. Also, don’t forget about erosion. This phenomenon is really common in wet environments, so you can avoid it by planting shrubs. Make sure you have the proper soil for these plants.

5.      Get the Soil Ready

At this point, you can already start digging. Before planting, you should prepare the soil by mixing it with some compost. Afterward, you can add the plants. Make sure you press them in properly, but only after you have mixed the soil with the compost.

6.      Add Some Mulch

This step is essential to know whenever you learn how to build a rain garden. Mulch is known for its isolating properties, so adding it will keep the soil moist. Also, it prevents weeds from spreading, so you won’t see them taking over your little plantation. The best choice should be mulch that is made from wood chips. If you cannot find it anywhere, anything works.

7.      Water the Garden from Time to Time

Soon after planting, your garden will need a small boost. It might not rain for the next weeks, so you shouldn’t let your plants die. Therefore, you can water them yourself every other day until the first rain comes. After that, they will already be settled, so your rain garden will survive. See more to learn how to properly water your garden and lawn.

Summing Up

Learning how to build a rain garden is essential if you want a low maintenance plantation that doesn’t consume resources. This type of landscape is extremely eco-friendly, as you can avoid rainwater pollution and create new habitats for wildlife. Growing native plants in your garden is always a great choice, and finding an eco way to water them makes for a great combination.

Image sources: Flickr

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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