A few years ago, I went to a rain garden workshop with my dad. The workshop gave us a broad overview of how rain gardens can help reduce runoff and improve local water quality.
They also touched on how to create a rain garden, and different design and location options. In case you haven’t heard of rain gardens before; basically, they are designed to capture and absorb rain water.
Water is directed into the rain garden, and soaks into the soil rather than running off into the streets; keeping dirt, fertilizers and yard debris out of our local waterways. Rain gardens help improve water quality because the water is filtered naturally as it’s absorbed into the ground.
In Minnesota, we have many beautiful lakes, rivers and other waterways, and runoff is a big problem. I live in the Minnesota River Valley, and all of our runoff goes straight into the river.
So of course, after the workshop I was really excited and wanted to put a rain garden in my yard. However, I felt a bit frustrated because I didn’t know how to identify a good spot to put one.
|Raging mini-river during downpour|
Every time we get a heavy rainfall, the water flows between our houses like raging mini-rivers.
The middle of the backyard turns into a swamp, and areas of mulch and dirt in my front gardens wash away.
I clearly need a rain garden on my property… but again, where to put it.
During a storm last summer, I paid close attention to how the water flows through our yard, and where it comes from. As I watched these mini-rivers flow between our houses, it gave me a good idea of spots I could put a rain garden, and I had one particular spot in mind.
I planned to do install a rain garden last year but alas, there were too many things on my plate. Also, I was nervous to build it because I couldn’t visualize exactly what to do. Well, it turns out I’m lucky I waited.
|Swampy backyard (bad photo, taken through a screen)|
This spring, I found out my city offers a program that helps residents design and plan their rain garden. They even offer up to $500 in grant money to help pay for the project. Woohoo! That’s all the inspiration I need.
So off to another workshop I went, with follow up design sessions this time. They had professional designers in the sessions to help figure out where to put the rain garden and help design it. I came out of the design sessions with the location and size of the rain garden, as well as the start of a design plan. I’m glad I waited; the location I had in mind last year would not have worked well.
|Location for rain garden|
Before we start digging (hubby will be helping with this project), they will come out and stake everything and tell us exactly what we need to do. Then, before we start planting, they will come out and make sure we did everything right. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
The next steps are to come up with my plant list and finish my design (when I’m finished, I will share). Then in a few weeks, the designers will come out to stake, and we can start digging. I can’t wait!
I feel confident that installing this rain garden will work wonders in my swampy backyard, slow down the mini-rivers, and help keep the runoff from flowing to the street and into the Minnesota river.
I will definitely keep you posted on the progress of my rain garden. Anyone have experience installing a rain garden, any advice?
|The spot for my rain garden is at the top of this picture|
Follow my progress:
1. June 30, 2012 – Rain Garden Plan Complete
2. June 5th, 2012 – Building The Rain Garden
3. July 16th, 2012 – Rain Garden DONE!
4. June 12th, 2013 – Rain Garden Update – one year later