What is a Rain Garden and Should You Plant One in Your Yard?

house exterior while raining

Rain gardens are designed to gather stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, comparable to roofs, streets, driveways, patios, parking heaps, or waterlogged yards. The runoff is then allowed to seep again into the bottom slowly, stopping it from reaching native waterways. Rain gardens are planted with powerful vegetation that thrive throughout temporary intervals of inundation and drought, offering engaging habitats for pollinators and different wildlife.

Whether or not you’re shopping for a house within the wet metropolis of New Orleans, LA, or contemplating moving to West Plam Beach, FL, the place you get 63 inches of rain a yr, this can be the proper dwelling enchancment undertaking. Putting in a rain backyard may be difficult – count on to get sweaty – but it surely’s all price it for the quite a few environmental advantages rain gardens present. On this article, you’ll study all about rain gardens, together with the aim and advantages, how they work, and skilled ideas for creating your personal. Let’s get began.

Why is rainwater runoff an issue?

Rainwater runoff can carry pollution from the land into water our bodies, the place they will trigger water high quality issues. Runoff also can trigger flooding and erosion. 

How does a rain backyard work?

A rain backyard is a backyard that’s planted in a method that enables rainwater to stream by way of it and be absorbed into the bottom. There are a lot of methods to catch rain for a rain backyard, however one of many easiest is to make use of a rain barrel. A rain barrel is a container positioned beneath a downspout to gather rainwater from the roof and different runoffs and directs it to the backyard. Not solely does a rain backyard recycle and preserve water, however it might probably additionally assist cut back water payments and shield the surroundings.

“A rain backyard is a water-saving and material-conserving panorama characteristic that simplifies gardening and creates a novel aesthetic characteristic,” says Colorado Ecoscapes. “Whereas they are often designed in myriad methods, the essential idea is to seize or divert rainwater from the house right into a food-growing space. Many owners choose to have their downspouts prolonged with easy drainage tubing that empties free and recent rain to the rising space, usually a barely excavated and formed backyard space, leading to your greens and different vegetation thriving with out requiring intensive irrigation or hand watering.” 

What makes a rainwater backyard completely different than an everyday backyard?

A rain backyard is designed to soak up and filter rainwater, whereas a typical backyard is just not. Rain gardens enable 30% extra water to seep into the bottom than a standard garden, making them a superb choice for these seeking to cut back runoff and enhance water conservation. Though rain gardens usually seem dry more often than not, they’ll maintain water throughout and after rainfall. 

What are the advantages of rain gardens?

Rain gardens are helpful as a result of it helps to scale back runoff and prevents flooding. Another advantages of rain gardens embody recharging groundwater, bettering water high quality, and offering habitat for wildlife. Let’s dig into a couple of of those advantages a bit extra, together with perception from rain backyard specialists. 

Reduces water air pollution and permits groundwater to recharge

Meadowview Farm & Natural Habitat Garden provides, “Rain gardens assist gradual the stream of water from a yard throughout and after a storm, decreasing water air pollution and permitting groundwater recharge.” Groundwater recharge is the infiltration of water from the floor into subsurface aquifers. It happens naturally and thru anthropogenic processes and is crucial to the water cycle.

Reduces flooding 

“With the elevated unpredictability of utmost climate occasions, rain gardens can alleviate city flooding by holding water on web site,” says prairie backyard designers Monarch Gardens. “Rain gardens also can operate as vital bits of habitat for pollinators and birds, particularly after they characteristic native vegetation to the native zipcode. At every degree of the rain backyard, the decrease portion is for moisture-loving vegetation, and the higher degree is for drought-tolerant plants. Varied ecosystem providers are being carried out that embody remediating soils, sequestering carbon, cleansing the air, and absorbing runoff whereas offering wildlife habitat; that is very true with the rain backyard is planted densely, with vegetation 12 inches aside.” 

Rain gardens return the pure stream of water in a panorama 

“The center of what a rain backyard is, is an try to convey the pure processes that assist life again into the house panorama,” says EcoLandscapes Design. “Somewhat than pushing water right into a pipe, the place it flows into mixed sewers that dump soiled water, and typically sewage, into our native streams and rivers, a rain backyard is an try to return to the pure method water flows by way of the panorama – filtering by way of the soil the place it might probably assist vegetation thrive and likewise sequester pollution. Like rain gardens, swales are one other method to make use of rainwater naturally, and each when coupled with native plantings can convey life and sweetness to the house.”

This landscaping method creates an oasis for wildlife 

Inexperienced stormwater infrastructure panorama firm and native plant nursery Ecosystems Regernation Artisians says the “landscaping strategy of rain gardens focuses on slowing the water down, spreading it out, and sinking it into the soil, which creates an ideal oasis for native vegetation and wildlife to thrive.”

rain garden after a rain

Learn how to set up your rain backyard

Should you’ve determined {that a} rain backyard works to your dwelling, you’ll have to know the right way to set up one. Listed below are some skilled tricks to contemplate earlier than putting in your rain backyard.

First, it’s important to know what sort of soil you’re working with   

Chief in strategic water planning and inexperienced infrastructure design Roth Ecological recommends  a water absorption take a look at that can make it easier to decide if a rain backyard works in your property. They are saying, “Check the infiltration fee of your soil by digging a gap (minimally 12”), filling it with water, and timing how lengthy it takes to empty. If it’s better than 60-minutes for 1 inch to drop, a rain backyard won’t work to your property since this means poorly draining soils – select a rainwater catchment tank as a substitute.”

Roth Ecological continues, “If the soil falls between 30-60min/inch, combine sand into the soil to extend water storage capability. If it’s much less, including compost and biochar will help with retention. Use native vegetation which can be tailored to the native local weather that may deal with each moist and dry intervals to scale back upkeep. For assist with sizing and placement of your rain backyard and monitoring volumes of stormwater being captured, test to see in case your metropolis has adopted the Comply with the Drop app.” 

Positioning, shaping and sizing your rain backyard

A rain backyard must be roughly 20% the dimensions of the roof, patio, or pavement space draining into it. The typical rain backyard for a residential dwelling or small constructing is between 100 and 400 sq. ft. Nevertheless, whatever the dimension, every rain backyard can considerably influence the surroundings. 

Rain gardens can have many shapes however are often designed to be lengthy, slim, and perpendicular to the land’s slope. They need to be positioned not less than 10 ft away from constructing foundations and shouldn’t be situated the place water ponds are for an prolonged interval. 

Award-winning creator and grasp gardener emeritus Gardening Charlotte shares placement ideas, “Place your rain backyard on the bottom level of your property and away from your own home – the thought is to information water away out of your basis. You aren’t constructing a tiny pond – you’re making a basin to carry rainwater so it may be absorbed into the soil, not run off. Rain backyard vegetation have additional lengthy roots that assist to carry on to soil, so it doesn’t get moved by rainwater.” 

Permaculture backyard designer and marketing consultant EWSP Consultancy shares, “Rain gardens are sometimes designed in a kidney form or a wavy, spherical, natural kind – however that is only one choice. So long as you accurately place and dimension the rain backyard to your particular web site, you will get artistic about its form and look. A pure look with gentle curves is usually interesting. However you can too have an angular design for a recent look – or a protracted, skinny rain backyard. So rain gardens work with no matter aesthetic look you need in your backyard. However no matter dimension and form it’s, choosing the proper vegetation, and choosing native vegetation, is essential.”

Accumulating the rain runoff to your backyard

“A rain backyard might sound pointless, however incorporating storm administration into your panorama will help make the most of this valuable useful resource whereas offering magnificence and distinction in a low-water panorama,” shares backyard design group Avant Garden Design

They proceed, “Step one ought to all the time be a rain-barrel assortment system that means that you can use this water within the backyard, however an overflow system is critical and must be channeled away from the home utilizing components like stone-lined stream beds and catch basins that include the rainwater and permit it to infiltrate into the bottom. Think about planting deep-rooted, native species to melt the perimeters of those options and make good use of this occasional abundance.”

The most effective vegetation for a rain backyard and the right way to take care of them

It’s finest to make use of native vegetation in your rain backyard. Native vegetation don’t require pesticides or fertilizer. You might have to water them sometimes in the course of the first and second yr or in periods of little rainfall. Likewise, you’ll have to take away weeds and lifeless vegetation and exchange them as wanted. However as soon as the vegetation within the rain backyard are established and grown bigger, they’ll out-compete weeds.

When inserting your vegetation in your rain backyard, the vegetation alongside the sting should have the ability to tolerate dry circumstances. Alongside the slope must be vegetation that may thrive in each dry or moist circumstances. Within the deepest part of the rain backyard, often known as the bottom, place vegetation that may deal with moist soil for an prolonged interval.

house exterior with vegetation

Ultimate ideas: why it is best to add a rain backyard to your yard

There are a lot of advantages to having a rain backyard in your panorama. Not solely can rain gardens be engaging and add to your home’s curb appeal, however they will additionally assist cut back runoff from storms, decrease flooding, and enhance water high quality. Rain gardens additionally play a large function in guarding our waterways in opposition to nonpoint supply pollution in runoff water. With extra inexperienced areas turning into overdeveloped, rain gardens will develop into very important sooner or later.

FAQ about rain gardens

How a lot does a rain backyard price?

The price of a rain backyard will fluctuate relying on the dimensions and placement of the backyard, the kind of vegetation used, and the quantity of labor required to assemble it. Nevertheless, a tough estimate for the price of a small rain backyard could possibly be round $200-$500. 

Is a rain backyard a pond?

No, a rain backyard is just not the identical as a pond. A rain backyard is a shallow despair within the floor planted with native vegetation designed to gather and take up rainwater runoff.

Alternatively, a pond is a bigger physique of water that’s usually man-made and can be utilized for numerous functions, comparable to irrigation, recreation, and wildlife habitat.

Does a rain backyard entice mosquitoes?

No, a rain backyard won’t entice mosquitoes. Rain gardens will help cut back an space’s mosquito inhabitants by offering a habitat for predators comparable to dragonflies and frogs.

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