Are you ready to make your own rain garden? It doesn’t have to be hard. These tips will help you get started. Match the numbers on the illustration to the ones below for a step-by-step guide:
1. Rain gardens fed by downspouts should be at least 10 feet from the house to avoid the risk of wet basements.
2. Rain gardens can be close to the house and other structures to receive storm water from roofs, or located farther away to absorb runoff in lawns.
3. Use a mix of plants — small trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and ferns — and arrange them in attractive groupings. In the first year, plants will need to be watered periodically in dry spells, and the bed weeded regularly. Apply a two-inch layer of organic mulch annually
4. Rain gardens vary in size depending on the amount of runoff to be captured, area available and soil type, but most are typically between 100 and 300 square feet in area and excavated to a depth of between 18 and 40 inches.
5. Pick a site that is fairly level, away from deep shade or near large tree roots and clear of buried utility lines or septic fields.
6. Figure out whether your site will drain sufficiently. Dig a test hole 24 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill it with water and let it drain. Fill it again and see how long it takes to infiltrate the saturated soil. If it takes more than 36 hours, you will have to add an underdrain or pick a new location.
7. After excavation, the hole is backfilled with a free-draining soil mix of 50 percent washed sand, 25 percent compost and 25 percent topsoil.
8. Use the excavated fill to create a berm on the low edge of the garden to trap the water.