Choose Your Site
If you have a low spot at the base of a slope, or an area near your downspout, you have the
ideal site for a rain garden. Just make sure that it's at least 10 feet away from your house and gets at least six hours of sunlight a day,
since rain-garden flowers are sun-lovers.
Big or Small? Lay Out Your Design
A rain garden can be beautiful in any space. Just outline your design with a hose or by
sprinkling flour on the ground. You can make a round garden, a square garden, or any shape you
like. Use your imagination.
Can You Dig It? It's Shovel Time
Cut along your outline with a sharp spade, then dig out your shape about 6 - 18 inches deep,
with sides sloping in like a cereal bowl. Of course, before digging, check with your
For a Bog Garden, Add Lining
If you want a damper garden for plants that like "wet feet", you could turn your rain garden into a bog garden by slowing down the absorption rate. You can do this by lining your hole with some polyethylene sheeting. Make sure you have enough for
a lip that will be hidden under soil or a border. If you have heavy clay soil, pierce your
liner every three feet with a garden fork. If your soil is sandy, pierce less. A regular rain garden dries out after rains. Bog gardens hold water longer.
Put in Your Plants
Here's where you can go wild with so many choices. Cardinal flowers, cattails, arrowhead,
and marsh marigolds are just a few of your options. If your rain garden is out in the middle of
your yard, plant your tall flowers in the center, and the short ones along the rim. If it's
against a rock or wall, put the tall ones in back. Place your plants on the garden while they're still in their pots as you design the look. when you're happy with the arrangement, go ahead and dig them in. Once they're in, add 2-3 inches of mulch to the garden, and water until the soil
mixture is nice and moist.
Maintaining Your Rain Garden
How wet your rain garden should be depends on the plants you put in. Cardinal flowers and Joe Pye Weed can
handle dry conditions, while marsh marigolds like things constantly damp. Just add water
according to your plants' needs. You can add more compost once in a while, which will feed your
plants. If you have created a bog garden that frequently has standing water, you can add a product, such as the Mosquito Dunk, that
controls mosquito larvae. Other than that, just sit back and enjoy the butterflies and
hummingbirds that will visit.
Rain Garden photos in this article are of the community rain garden in Worthington, Ohio. They were provided courtesy of Sustainable Worthington.