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Landscaping Tips & Inspiration Blog

Total Landscape Management

Build Your Rain Garden to Reduce Your Snow/Rain Runoff

When rain falls in large amounts, the water can cause problems in a neighborhood. If your yard is positioned unluckily, runoff water out of your gutters can pool and keep the ground soggy for days after a downpour. And even if the rainwater does drain into the street, this water can erode the soil in your lawn or carry chemicals, oil, and other pollution into the drains.

A solution to the problem of large amounts of water in your yard is a rain garden—a garden that’s made with inlet pipes to carry water from the gutter to the garden, and a sloping bowl shape to hold the water. In a rain garden, you can grow attractive plants while also reducing the problems of gutter runoff. This isn’t a simple DIY landscaping project, you will definitely want the help of professional landscaper

Prepping A Garden For Runoff

Creating a rain garden can be a big project, and hiring professional landscapers is a smart way to make sure the job is done right. Firstly, landscapers have the expertise to know where a rain garden should be placed. If the ground tends to pool water already, it may not be suitable to hold any more water, so redirecting gutter runoff there wouldn’t work.Once you’ve chosen the right spot, the grass and soil must be removed. This can be very strenuous work if done without machinery or experts, especially since a rain garden must be fairly deep in order to hold enough runoff water to be useful. After the basin is fully excavated, a landscaper can help you lay the inlet pipes from the gutter to the garden to redirect rainwater into the plant bed.

Next, you’ll fill the basin. A mixture of native soil and compost—or screened sand and compost, if the native soil contains too much clay—should fill all but the top six to twelve inches of the basin. Be sure to slope the sides gently, creating a bowl shape that will keep the edges of the garden relatively drier than the middle, which will keep standing water for longer after it rains.

This sloping shape and the difference in elevation makes different zones that are suitable to different plants, depending on how much water they need. For the edges of the garden, you’ll want to choose plants that need drier soil, for the center, you’ll need plants that can tolerate lots of standing water, and in between these zones, plants that can tolerate standing water some of the time will be best. Finally, a three-inch layer of mulch should top the rain garden to keep the moisture in.

Maintaining Your Rain Garden

Although hiring a professional landscaper is the best option for creating your rain garden, maintenance shouldn’t be very difficult. Once the right plants have been placed and the inlet pipes laid, a rain garden will be mostly self-sustaining. You’ll need to replace the mulch as it erodes slowly, and the plants may need occasional trimming or watering in very dry seasons.