Rain gardens add natural beauty to your landscape while also providing many environmental and economic benefits.
What is a Rain Garden?
Simply put – it is a garden that captures rain. On the surface, it may look like any other flower garden, but underneath, it serves a greater purpose. Strategically placed in low-lying areas, rain gardens capture and naturally filter runoff from roofs, driveways, and other hard (impervious) surfaces. The water is allowed to slow down, naturally filter out pollutants and absorb into the soil rather than flow into the street.
Rain Gardens can bring life to an otherwise depressed area, literally.
Because rain gardens are composed of native plants, they also attract wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, providing a beautiful and functional addition to any landscape.
Rain gardens increase curb appeal, adding to your home’s value while protecting your property and your community from flooding.
Creating a Rain Garden
Plant where it puddles. Look for low or sunken areas in your yard where water overflows or puddles when it rains. This can be at the end of a gutter or drain spout, near the driveway/street, or any area with a gentle slope leading away from your house.
Keep away from any structures experiencing foundation issues or erosion.
Rain gardens divert rainwater from your roof, driveway, and other hardscapes away from the foundation of your home to reduce the risk of water damage.
Test the soil to ensure it can absorb water at an acceptable rate.
- Irrigate or otherwise saturate a small area of soil where you intend to put your rain garden. Dig a 6-inch diameter hole about 12 inches deep. Fill the hole with water and time how long it takes to absorb into the ground. It should drain within 24 hours.
The amount of runoff you’re attempting to capture in the rain garden will dictate its size. Large amounts of runoff will call for a larger rain garden (about 130 – 160 sqft). Smaller gardens (30 – 100 sqft) are more appropriate for lower rates of runoff.
Create a shape of your choice and dig out the garden 6 inches deep. Be sure to slope the sides. Loosen the soil at the bottom to a depth of 3 inches. Then cover the loosened soil with compost.
Native plants with deep root systems are ideal for a hassle-free rain garden. These will increase the water capacity of the garden. We also recommend drought-resistant plants suited to Central Texas. Then mulch around the plants and cover the exposed soil to keep out weeds and retain the water. Larger pieces of mulch are ideal, as they are less likely to wash away.
You can add decorative features like river rocks or limestone to the sides of the rain garden to make it pop. Just make sure these features don’t impede water flow into the garden.
The new plants will need some regular watering temporarily until they become established. Weeds will also need to be pulled like any other garden occasionally. If your rain garden is functioning properly, any water it retains should be gone within two days. If it isn’t absorbed into the ground by that time, break up the soil in the top 4 to 6 inches.
For more detailed instructions on creating a rain garden, click here.