Today’s gardening tip is as decorative as it is practical, and it could save you some trouble the next time we have a heavy rain in Northern Utah.
Rain gardens are taking the gardening and landscape industries by storm, and for good reason. Not only do they provide a myriad of benefits for the environment, but they can also help you prevent basement flooding whenever a heavy rain event occurs.
Let’s take a look at how rain gardens work and how you can build your own at your home.
The Environmental Benefits of Rain Gardening
In a nutshell, a rain garden is a landscape element designed to maintain the natural cycle of rainfall while preventing unwanted damage to the environment.
In the event of a heavy rainfall, most residential lots are unable to retain all if the water that falls (especially when a large amount of precipitation occurs in a short period of time). Runoff leaves your lot and enters the storm drainage system, carrying with it any trash and pollutants along the way.
Trash clogs the storm drain system while pollutants – primarily pesticides, weed killers, pet waste, road salt and chemical fertilizers – eventually make their way into local streams, lakes and even the water supply.
By retaining more water on your lot, rain gardens minimize these perils while providing an unexpected benefit for homeowners: the prevention of flooding in homes and basements.
Why Should You Consider Adding a Rain Garden?
If you’ve ever experienced flooding in your basement or home, you can certainly benefit from today’s gardening tip. But, even if you haven’t, consider some of the other benefits.
Your rain garden can reduce pollution and preserve natural waterways. It can also help recharge Utah’s rapidly diminishing groundwater table. In fact, the Toronto Regional Conservation Agency (TRCA) reports that a rain garden allows about 30 percent more rainwater to return to the water table than the same size patch of turfgrass. Rain gardens also attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees and mosquito-hungry dragonflies.
They are also easy to create and maintain, and add an element of incomparable natural beauty to your landscape. And it requires little or no extra water to maintain.
So, without further ado, let’s explore some gardening tips for creating your rain garden.
Gardening Tips for Building Your Rain Garden
Create your rain garden near where your gutter system releases water, typically near the end of your downspout. You can also create yours at low points in the yard or in an area of runoff, such as the end of your driveway. Keep the location several feet from your home’s foundation and channel the water toward the garden with a swale made from river rock and pond liner material.
You can either dig out a flat pit in the desired size and shape of your plot, build berms around it or a combination of these techniques. Ideally, you want about three feet of depth, but yours can be more shallow if you have very porous soil. To calculate the ideal size for yours, check out this handy step-by-step guide for building a rain garden.
Now add a soil mixture that facilitates drainage. Avoid clay soil at all costs. Instead, use a loose mixture of compost, sand and a garden soil mixture. Now, select outdoor plants that are native to our area and that are both water and drought tolerant. Remember to choose those outdoor plants that are appropriate for the amount of sun your rain garden will receive.
Place the most water-tolerant plants in the center of the rain garden and those better suited to dry roots toward the edges. Finally, add a three-inch layer of mulch across the entire bed. Now you can sit back and watch the magic happen!
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Millcreek Gardens is your premier source for shade trees, shrubs, rose bushes and outdoor plants. Visit us today and ask our friendly associates for advice on which plants to choose for your rain garden. And, of course, don’t hesitate to call on us for even more professional gardening tips!