DIY for East, Rain Garden!
Rain gardens are beneficial for our environment because they collect surface
rainwater runoff which would otherwise run along our streets collecting chemicals, to then be
collected in either the storm or sanitary sewers straining our infrastructure. So instead, rain
gardens allow the rainwater runoff to percolate through the soil to the original source.
So, this is the easiest DIY ever, because basically, you are just digging a shallow hole!
The location of your rain garden is crucial. A spot in your yard that is already low is ideal, but
what is most important is being able to route your downspouts toward the new rain garden.
This can be done by attaching drainage tubing to your downspouts and digging a trench for
them. The downspouts for our rain garden are connected to PVC and run under our deck. Just
make sure the drainage tubing falls from it source to its outlet so gravity will move the water
to the rain garden.
Once you choose your location, start digging. Dig trenches from your downspouts to
your garden and dig your garden. A percolation test will help you know how deep and how
wide you need to dig to handle the amount of water coming off your roof. For my “practice”
garden at home, I stayed fairly small and shallow, digging out more whenever it was
insufficient to handle the amount of runoff. For the garden for the show, we went way
overboard, digging deeper and longer than we would ever need.
Once you have your hole dug, choose plants that like “wet feet” and the amount of
light your garden provides. You can google “rain garden plants” or ask your local agricultural
extension agent what plants will work well in your agricultural zone. The East St. Garden has
buttonbush in the lowest (wettest) zone, Siberian iris and liriope in the midrange zone, and a
small variety of liriope for the upper (driest) zone. I became a little carried away and used
baja stones as ground cover. The nice thing about stones is they don’t rise with the water like
mulch does. The downside of stones it the weight and cost.
Speaking of my home rain garden, unlike the sunny office location, it is in full shade,
but still has Siberian iris, which tolerate pretty much any conditions, sun, shade, wet, dry. It
also has ferns, mosses, and coral bells (huecherra).
Below are pictures of my home rain garden as well as the one featured on Good Bones.