Does a big downpour make you nervous? Do you worry about a wet basement, an overworked sump pump, or huge puddles in your yard after a heavy rainfall?
You might need a rain garden. It’s the prettiest tool out there to improve drainage on your property.
Part pretty garden bed, part efficient drainage solution, rain gardens act like sponges to clean rainwater and help it soak more efficiently into the soil.
Let’s take a look at how rain gardens work, how they benefit the environment and some great rain garden plants for New York.
What Are Rain Gardens?
During a typical heavy rain at many homes, water gushes out of downspouts, across lawns treated with pesticides and fertilizers, into the dirty street and down a storm drain that dumps the now-polluted water into a nearby stream or river.
By building a rain garden, you can divert your gutter water into an attractive planting bed that cleans the water and lets it drain efficiently into the surrounding soil before it flows into the local groundwater.
How Do Rain Gardens Work?
When you plant a rain garden with deep-rooted plants, the plants help the water rapidly seep into the soil, away from your house. You direct the rainwater from your downspouts to the garden via a plastic pipe.
The garden captures the water and, when properly designed, drains it quickly into the soil.
If there’s an especially heavy rainfall, excess water may overflow the rain garden and run into the storm sewer system. It’s still doing its job, though, channeling water away from your foundation and reducing the load on the sewer system.
A rain garden also reduces the number of lawn chemicals and pet waste that may otherwise run off into local lakes and rivers.
How Do Rain Gardens Help The Environment?
Rain gardens have been shown to vastly improve water quality and are promoted nationally as a low impact development (LID) practice.
Storm water and rainwater runoff are generated when it’s forced to flow down impervious surfaces, like driveways and other hard surfaces. Gravity determines where the water goes, which often causes drainage problems.
Rain gardens soak in the runoff while filtering contaminants out.
How To Make A Rain Garden At Home
Rain gardens are usually placed around driveways on residential properties and around parking lots and walkways on commercial properties.
Avoid low-lying areas — you don’t want a location that’s already soggy. A rain garden should be at least 10 feet from the house and at least 50 feet from a septic system or steep slopes.
A rain garden can be any shape — oval, kidney-shaped, long and skinny.
Installing a rain garden involves digging to the proper depth for your property, excavating lawn and soil, creating a berm, digging a trench and installing pipe, filling with the proper soil mix and selecting the right mix of plants for different zones of the rain garden.
It can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s a good job for experts who can create just the right environment for your unique property’s drainage needs.
The Best Trees And Shrubs For Rain Gardens
Native plants are the best choices for rain gardens. Native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs typically have very deep root systems, sometimes burrowing down 10 feet or more.
Most native plants also cast off their roots annually, growing new roots and providing more soil aeration for good drainage. And because they’re native to your area, these plants will thrive in your zone and soil conditions.
Good Rain Garden Plants For New York:
Here are some great native plants for the very wet zone in the middle of a rain garden:
- Blue Flag Iris
- Cardinal Flower
- Red Twig Dogwood
- Swamp Milkweed
- Switch Grass
These native plants work well in the moderately wet zone around the edge of a rain garden:
- Blue Lobelia
- Cinnamon Fern
- Cut‐leaf Coneflower
- Joe‐Pye Weed
- Marsh Marigold
- Royal Fern
- Swamp Azalea
- Woodland Phlox
Let Neave Help You Create A Rain Garden
Intrigued by rain gardens? The first step in designing one for your property is to contact Neave Aquatics to have a specialist visit your commercial or residential property.
A Neave professional will assess your property’s drainage and recommend a rain garden plan that meets its specific needs.
While rain gardens are great solutions for many different drainage problems, some issues need more help. The experts at Neave Aquatics can tell you how bioswales, French drains or other solutions can help protect your property, too.
If necessary, they’ll work with the specialists from Neave Storm Water to maximize the efficiency of your rain garden.
Contact Neave Aquatics today to find out more about the beauty and function of rain gardens.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.