Do you need a rain garden?

Do you find water gathering in your yard after some heavy rain? Stressed over a damp basement and an overloaded sump pump?
If so, you probably want to think about how a rain garden could benefit you. Rain gardens are designed to help catch water and are filled with water loving plants.

Pictured is a diagram from The Family Handyman showing you how a rain garden works.

Building your garden…

To start off your rain garden you are going to want to designate an area for your garden, it is best done at the base of a slope or an area that water flows to naturally. Create a berm around the outside of the garden to help control the area. Try to make the garden at least 10 feet away from your home if possible, otherwise the soil might become saturated around the foundation. A minimum slope of 1 inch in 4 1/2 feet is required to provide proper water flow, if you do not have this slope you will need to do some landscaping to create one. After you found your slope, you will want to create a passage for your water to flow. You can install a PVC pipe underground that will lead to the garden from the downspout, or you can create a channel from the downspout and use natural stones to control water flow. To help when a big storm fills up or overflows your garden, create an area that is slightly lower than the garden on one side and use stones to channel the water away from your home and neighbors homes.
Do not locate the garden over a septic tank or underground utility lines. Remember to call 811 to have your utilities marked before digging.

A residential rain garden that uses a natural slope to direct the water to the stone and prevent it from pooling.

Selecting your plants…

Choose plants that have average to heavy water requirements listed on their tag and place those plants in the deepest parts of your rain garden. On the upper edges of the bed, place plants that enjoy average to dry water conditions. While it may seem like a good idea to purchase all water loving plants for your rain garden, do not do it; your garden is supposed to drain and they will unfortunately be left dry. Try selecting native plants and grasses because they tend to have deep root systems and you know they will thrive in the soil around your area.

This residential rain garden helps water flow away from the house, helping to keep moisture out of the basement.

Caring for your garden…

You’re going to want to give your garden special attention in its first year. Since your plants will be young they won’t be able to handle large amounts of water. Adding large rocks at the garden’s entrance can prevent the young plants from getting washed out by heavy rain. Also, if you are going to use mulch, putting down a hardwood mulch, such as cedar or hemlock is good because it will not float away like pine. The hardwood cedar mulch will also help to deter some bugs like termites, cockroaches, and certain kinds of ants. During dry spells, while the plants are still young, you are going to want to water them about 1 inch a week. If you choose native plants you will find that they will be more tolerant of dry conditions as they mature.

If you decide to install your own rain garden we have many different types of stone and mulch available to give you the look you desire. We also carry a sandy fill, sand, and loam to fill in any areas as well.

Call us at (413) 583-6805 or email us at