Build a Rain Garden: Be Proactive with a Functioning Stormwater Facility

While the cold temperatures have many of us huddled inside with little thought of working outdoors, now is the perfect time to start planning your spring landscaping projects. A rain garden is a great venture that can provide many benefits to you, your yard, and the environment.

What is a Rain Garden?

Think of it as a shallow landscaped hole designed to capture excess rainwater from impermeable areas around your home such as your roof, sidewalks and other hard surfaces. This runoff would normally end up in the storm drain system and flow out to our rivers and waterways which causes erosion, flooding, water pollution and decreased groundwater. Rain gardens also help conserve H2O by reducing the need for irrigation, and some municipal water agencies even offer discounts in storm water charges.  In addition to creating an ecological force field and saving money, you’ll be building a habitat for insects, birds and amphibians. How neighborly of you!

Proper Planning is Key to an Efficient Rain Garden

Choose an area that runoff naturally flows through. The idea is to capture this water before it enters the drain system and instead, allow it to absorb back into the ground.  Excavate an area to about a foot and a half, although it may need to be deeper depending on the soil absorbency. Don’t forget to call the local utility notification center prior to digging! In Oregon the number is 811 and the service is free. The excavated area will then need to be filled with high permeability soils. Finally, you’ll want to pick out some drought and wet-tolerant vegetation to be planted.

Choosing the Most Effective Plants

Ideally you want to select plants that do not require additional water. Native plants are a great choice, but it’s a good idea to research the amount of sunlight the area gets per day, the size of the matured plant, and its seasonality. You may also want to consider if the plants attract beneficial insects and/or wildlife. Finally, don’t forget that you want your rain garden to be aesthetically appealing in addition to being a place to capture and treat runoff.

While a rain garden requires careful planning, the benefits can be enjoyed with little maintenance once the job is completed. Whether you choose to tackle a rain garden project yourself or need some assistance, the experts at  All Oregon are available to answer any questions you have or to help you start preparation now. Post your inquiries in the comment section here, or on our Facebook page.

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