Rain Gardens

Are you an unfortunate victim of improper drainage, due to the age of your neighborhood or poor construction? Living in one of the many old neighborhoods in Edmonton, Sherwood Park or St. Albert this may be the unfortunate circumstances you currently find yourself in. Well we may have the solution for you! Instead of losing hair trying to contact your municipality or starting world war three with the neighbor whose entire yard drains onto your patio, you can plant a Rain Garden. Though the title may suggest a Rain Garden induces rain, we assure you a Rain Gardens purpose is to make use of excess water. The attractive planting bed is intended to act like a sponge and natural filter to clean the water and let it percolate slowly into the surrounding soil. Installing a rain garden isn’t as difficult as you may think if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dig or planning to bring in machines to help. But remember to consult local landscaping specialists at Little Creek Landscaping to gain some knowledge about soil mix, garden size, and plants for your area.

A rain garden consists of 3 separate zones. These zones contain specific planting that contribute to the gardens success.

  1. Zone 1, the centermost ring of the rain garden, should be stocked with plants that like standing water for long periods of time
  2. Zone 2, should have plants that can tolerate occasional standing water
  3. Zone 3, is rarely wet for any length of time and is best planted with species that prefer drier climates.

When beginning the construction of your Rain Garden, you should always start by figuring out the size and shape of your bed. Once you have decided on the shape and size, you can then remove all the existing ground cover that may be in the area. You are now ready to excavate the basin of your Rain Garden. First dig down to the depth you need. Create a flat bottom so that water will percolate down evenly. If the rain garden is on a slope, you can pile some of the excavated soil into a berm on the low side to retain the water. For stability, stomp the berm soil down well and make the base at least 2 feet wide and the top at least 1 foot wide. The peak of the berm should be at least 6 inches higher than the water level when the rain garden is full. Also, be sure to excavate for a dry well, if included. The size of the dry well will depend on your specific bed. You will now install the piping that will allow for proper drainage of any excess water the garden does not absorb. Dig a trench for a pipe that will carry water from one or more gutter downspouts to the rain garden. Install the piping. Rigid piping with smooth walls is the most durable, but corrugated tubing is easier to work with; get the kind without perforations. Extend the piping into the rain garden basin by a foot or so. Line the area underneath with stones to prevent erosion. You can also place stones over and beside the pipe to hide it and to keep corrugated tubing from curling up. When all the piping is in place, fill in the rest of the trench with excavated soil. You will now fill your basin. Fill all but the top 6 to 12 inches of the excavated area with rain-garden soil. Slope the sides gently. If the soil you excavated is relatively free of clay, you can use a mixture of 65 percent native soil to 35 percent compost, or 2 scoops of soil for each scoop of compost. If you dug out clay soil, refill with a mixture of 60 percent screened sand and 40 percent compost. If you are creating a dry well, fill that with washed rock 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. Also pack stones around the overflow area to prevent erosion.

You are now ready for the fun part, selecting your planting for the Rain Garden. For the center of the garden you will want to choose plants that can tolerate “wet feet” which means they will be able to withstand standing water for prolonged periods of time. Some examples would be Lady Fern, Dogwood and Joe Pye Weed. The next zone will need to be populated with plants that can withstand wet conditions, but will also thrive in times of less moisture. Examples for this zone would be Astilbe, Daylily and Bee Balm. The 3rd zone will contain planting that prefers drier conditions. Examples for this zone would be “Western Bleeding heart,” “Cone Flower” and Karl Foerster Grass. And all examples provided are available at Sherwood Nurseries.

You no have the know how to embark on creating a rain garden of your own. Remember to always do your research and if you have any questions Little Creek would be happy to answer them for you or provide any assistance  contact the experts at Little Creek Landscaping. Keep bringing your outdoor living dreams to life.