What Is a Rain Garden?

What is a Rain Garden

You might have heard that adding a rain garden to your yard can add beauty to your property and benefit the environment as well. What is a rain garden and how does it work? A rain garden is a collection of flowers and plants planted in a low lying spot in a yard with the intent to absorb and filter rainwater runoff. Rain gardens are beautiful, beneficial and a great way to preserve native flowers and local ecosystems using natural resources. Our rain garden guide will inform you of the benefits of rain gardens, how to build one, and more.

Benefits of Having a Rain Garden

You might be wondering what the purpose of a rain garden is and what having one can do for you and your home. Many benefits come with installing a rain garden in your yard or community. Rain gardens:

    • Remove standing water: Less standing water in your yard means less chance for harmful bacterial growth and pesky mosquitos.
    • Collect and filter run-off: Rain gardens collect and filter the water that runs from buildings, homes and farms. Rain gardens help filter this runoff, lessening the chance of harmful pesticides or chemicals being transferred to or from your yard in the event of heavy rainfall.
    • Conserve water: Rain gardens are largely self-maintaining when it comes to water. By choosing a rain garden, you choose vegetation that requires less external irrigation.
    • Attract birds, butterflies and hummingbirds: Drawn to the color and nectar of your rain garden plants, birds, butterflies and hummingbirds will make their way to your backyard. Many will use your rain garden to create new habitats. These new habitats provide them with safety and shelter and make your garden an even more beautiful place to enjoy.
    • Help control storm water runoff: Some communities have implemented rain gardens to redirect — and reuse — floodwaters away from sewer drains.
    • Preserve and showcase native plants: With their various vibrant colors and luscious textures, rain gardens are appealing to look at. If you are hoping to boost your home's resale value, this is one way to do it. Otherwise, rain gardens are the perfect addition to your backyard oasis.

How to Build a Rain Garden

Choose a shallow depression in your yard that is not already soggy with water. Your garden should be at least 10 feet from the base of your house and at least 50 feet from septic or other utility systems. Once you have chosen a spot, perform a soil test. Average rainfall should fill your rain garden, but it should drain within 24 hours. Dig a small hole in your ideal location, fill it with water and see how long it takes to drain. If the water drains quickly enough, you may proceed.

Once you have calculated the size of your rain garden and designed the layout, remove any grass and choose where water will enter and exit the garden. Add river rocks or underground PVC pipe to direct water flow from gutters. Keep in mind that particularly heavy rains may cause your garden to overflow — plan for an overflow zone surrounding your garden's parameter. The overflow zone should also be a safe distance from your home and utilities.

Once you finish the layout and installation of your garden, it is time to add your chosen plants. Your rain garden should be layered with three zones. The middle zone of your garden is the place for plants that love moisture and can thrive in a consistently wet environment. Surround this zone with a layer of plants who enjoy excess moisture, but require less of it. The third zone is the outer later of your rain garden and it houses plants that prefer a drier soil.

10 Perfect Plants for a Rain Garden

10 Plants for a Rain Garden

Fill your rain garden with plants that can stand up to an excess amount of moisture. Layer these plants by placing your most water-loving flowers in the middle of your rain garden and the drier of your choices on the outside. Some popular rain garden plants that thrive in wet conditions are:

    • Cardinal Flower: Cardinal flowers are known for their bright red hue but may also come in shades of white, blue and pink. They are a favorite among butterflies and hummingbirds.
    • Daylilies: Daylilies are easy-to-grow perennials that come in yellow, orange and red.
    • Milkweed: Common types of milkweed include swamp milkweed, purple milkweed and forest milkweed.
    • Butterfly Weed: Butterfly weed is easily distinguished by its vibrant clusters of orange flowers.
    • Black-eyed Susans: Black-eyed Susans are bright yellow flowers named for the dark brown eye that grows in the center of the petals.
    • Bluestar: Bluestar is aptly named for its pale blue, star-shaped flowers.
    • Turtlehead: Turtleheads are similar to snapdragons and grow in shades of white, pink and purple.
    • Summersweet: Summersweet is also known as sweet pepperbush and is noted for its strong, spicy fragrance.
    • Astilbe: Astilbe flowers add color and texture to your garden with their fern-like leaves and eye-catching colors.
    • Sedges: Also known as Carex, Sedge is spiked and textural. Sedge is at its most attractive when multiple Sedge plants are clustered together, creating an interesting visual effect.

Depending on the depth of your soil, there are a few deciduous tree types that may also work in your rain garden, including green ash, red maple and river birch.

Don't forget to consider your soil's natural pH level, amount of sun exposure and proneness to disease when choosing the best rain garden plants.

Rain Garden Maintenance

Although rain gardens require less water than traditional gardens, they do require regular maintenance to keep in top shape. Regular maintenance includes:

    • Mulching: Mulch keeps your soil moist and helps new plants find their roots easier. You will need to rearrange and refresh mulch after heavy rainfall or storms.
    • Weeding and cutting: Like any garden, regular weeding and cutting is necessary to keep weeds and dead plants at bay.
    • Upkeep: Your rain garden will require some upkeep, such as replacing soil and mulch as needed, adding compost or fertilizer, removing unwanted debris and creating barriers to keep out destructive wildlife.
    • Expansion: As your rain garden thrives, you may want to expand it by adding new plants or increasing your garden's size.
    • Watering: Although it seems counterintuitive, you still need to monitor your rain garden's water level. During drought or dry spells, watering may be needed to keep your flowers thriving.

Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping is happy to help you maintain or expand your rain garden. We offer year-round management options, as well as attentive, personalized care to cover the rain garden basics.

Let Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping Bring Your Rain Garden to Life

Dragonetti brothers Rain Garden Services

Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping has been a family-owned business for more than 40 years. For us, no job is too big or too small — we have experience in commercial, residential and government jobs. We provide landscaping design, construction, maintenance, plant installation, tree removal and more.

Let us help you bring your rain garden dreams to life. Schedule a consultation, where we can help you decide the best location for your new addition or discuss custom landscape design options. Contact us online today or give us a call at 718-451-1300 to get started.

Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping

Phone: 718-451-1300



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