Rain gardens can be used wherever large amounts of water runoff occur. Near the end of downspouts, at the bottom of an incline, and near sump pump drainage systems are typical places for an effective rain garden.
Benefits of Planting a Rain Garden
Runoff and snowmelt from lawns, roofs, driveways and streets carry with it oils, pet waste, fertilizers, salt and any other pollutants it picks up along the way straight to our water ways.
These special gardens temporarily ‘trap’ and then clean runoff water before it enters underground springs, streams, rivers, and other water systems. In addition, they are beautiful and add more aesthetically pleasing plants to your landscape.
Native plants with deep fibrous roots, usually work best as they can withstand bouts of dry and very wet conditions and generally do not need fertilizer. As a bonus, native plants attract and support local wildlife such as birds, butterflies and other pollinators.
After you’ve selected your location, test the soil. Extremely clay-heavy soils do not typically make good places for rain gardens. However, a determined gardener could choose to amend their area.
Almost every soil type will need at least some amending. Remove the top 6 – 12” and till with compost as it will enable filtration.
Consider your surrounding plants and hardwoods. Do not plant near trees that cannot tolerate standing water for short periods of time. Also, rain gardens should not be planted near septic tanks.
Plant selection will depend upon your sun conditions and weather climate. But there are many beautiful species to choose from in every plant zone. Here are just a few rain garden plants that might be right for you!
Red Maple, River Birch, Ash (White or Green), Oak (Swamp, Red or Pin), Willows, Arborvitae
Chokeberries and Inkberries, Red Twig Dogwood, Rose of Sharon