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How to Build a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens provide a beautiful and vibrant way to help alleviate storm-water problems. You create one on a slope in a small depression. Native flowers, perennials, and shrubs are grown in it. It is built to temporarily hold and absorb rain-water runoff that flows from roofs, patios, lawns, or driveways.

Rain gardens can effectively utilize 90% of the nutrients and 80% of the sediments that come with the runoff of rain-water. By forming a rain garden in your conventional lawn, the water absorbance rate of the ground will increase by 30%, so it is said that a rain garden reduces the need for irrigation to your lawn.

A rain garden is not a type of water garden or a wetland; it usually stays dry most of the time and gathers water after a rainfall event. Because of its quick absorbency, it prevents the breeding of mosquitoes and other insects.

In this guide, we will discuss a step by step process to build a rain garden.

Step 1: Choose the Location

The first step in building a rain garden is the selection of a suitable location. It may seem easy, but some points need to be considered before choosing the location, including:

  1. The location that you choose must be at least 5-15 feet (152-457 cm) away from your house. If it’s too close, the water may cause damage to the foundation of your house. 
  2. Natural slopes provide the best location. Also, try to choose an area that receives plenty of sunlight.
  3. Do not create the rain garden over your septic system, or near your drinking water well, it will compromise their purity.

Step 2: Size and Depth

There are no adequate measurements to determine the depth of a rain garden; it depends on the soil quality. The soil varies from area to area, so, to calculate the exact depth, you can perform an easy experiment.

  1. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep in the garden and fill it with water.
  2. Wait for the water to be absorbed by the soil.
  3. If the water is absorbed within 6 hours, the site is perfect. If it takes up to 24 hours, it means the soil might need some amendments.
  4. But if it takes more than a day or doesn’t absorb at all, then choose a different spot.

The second step is to determine the size of your rain garden. The rain garden should be at least 15 to 20% of your roof, pavement, or patio size. Usually, the size of a rain garden for a big house or a small building lies between 100 to 400 square feet (9.3-37 sq. meters)

Step 3-Start Digging

For digging, you can either opt for professional help, or do it yourself to save money. To do it yourself, you need to take a shovel and start digging from the selected location. Make sure to dig a little extra than your actual estimate because you’ll have to put some of the soil back in that area. Don’t forget to leave some space to install a pipe that connects your roof to the garden to gather water from the rooftop.

Once you’re done with the excavation of the area, put some of the dug soil back to get better results. Now is the time to install a PVC pipe to transfer water from the room to the rain garden. If you have some other area at your home, where water gathers naturally, you can also install a pipe from there to the rain garden. Use some sea stones in your newly built rain garden for a more natural look.

Step 4-Planting

There a few things that you need to consider before selecting plants for your rain garden,

  1. Choosing the right plants can be tricky; you can seek help from your local nursery or experts for the exact specifications and availability of plants. In general, you can choose plants that require more water to grow and have long roots and are also beneficial to your garden. Some plants that you can grow includes:
    1. Iris
    2. Artemisia
    3. Daylilies
    4. Foxglove
    5. Sedges
  2. You can grow multiple patches of different plants to make your rain garden look more appealing. You can also add some plants that consume less water if you want.
  3. Make a small path for yourself to walk, in case if you ever want to access the garden, also maintain some distance between plants for cultural practices.
  4. Water-loving plants should be placed near the area from where water flows in, and plants that need less water can be planted around the edges of the rain garden.
  5. Prefer to grow native plants that are locally available. Exotic plants will have other growing requirements, and they will not survive for long, and then you’ll have to replace them in the end.

Step 5-Sealing the Sides

Once you are done with planting, make sure that the passage of water is open, and it’s sides are sealed. If the sides are not sealed properly, the water will overflow, damaging the surrounding area. You can seal the side of the water path with bricks or rocks. The rocks or bricks around the edges will prevent the flooded water from destroying your entire lawn by overflowing.

Step 6-Maintenance

Maintenance is essential, especially for the first year. Various easy steps must be taken into consideration after creating a rain garden. These steps are as under:

  1. Keep an eye on the water requirement of plants. If the growth is slow, water the plants more often.
  2. Inspect your rain garden for any pests or animals and keep it safe from them.
  3. After you’re done developing your garden, make sure that the water flows without any blockage.
  4. Check the amount of soil erosion in your rain garden and take the necessary steps to stop that.
  5. Trim the fast-growing plants.
  6. Try to keep it clean and remove trash once in a while.
  7. Inspect the plants and replace dead and damaged ones with the new.


Rain gardens are easy to make and maintain; they provide beautiful scenery for your house. A rain garden not only solves a landscape problem, but it is also a part of an ecosystem that can create a positive impact on the environment.


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