by: Lisa with Backyard Getaway
Many times in Florida, we get daily afternoon showers. If you have a low spot in your yard where water collects after a good rain, it would make the perfect spot for a rain garden! Rain gardens are inexpensive to create, easy to maintain and help give back to the environment by conserving water, attracting birds and filtering pollutants. You don’t have to live in Florida to have a rain garden, they can be planted all over the county in areas that get enough rain.
What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is a low-lying area that you plant with native plants that allows rainwater runoff from nearby roofs, driveways, lawns & walkways to soak into the ground instead of flowing into a storm drain or creating puddles in your driveway. The area should range from 4” to 12” lower than the rest of your yard. Rain is diverted from your roof gutters or paved areas to the garden.
Your rain garden should contain native plants to your area. You can vary your selection of plants to include wetland type plants ranging from wildflowers, sedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs and even small trees. If you are in Florida, native plants are best because they are tolerant of the Florida heat, soil and water conditions and will attract native birds and other wildlife. If you are in a different state, look up the plants that are native to your area.
The plants in your rain garden will act as sponges taking up the excess water that flows into your garden and will filter the water that returns to the groundwater system through their roots. By doing this, rain gardens help reduce the amount of pollution reaching streams & other bodies of water by up to 30% improving the quality of the bodies of water.
Even though a rain garden may seldom need watering and never need fertilizing, you may still need to weed and mulch your garden. Eventually the mature plants will push out the weeds.
Another option to remove standing water is to install a “French drain”. You will need to plan where to route the water starting at the point where water is puddling. It is best to follow a natural slope but you can create your own slope. Where the drain ends is also important. You want to make sure it will not damage your property. An option would be to have it end in a rain havesting system. The French drain trench should be between 6 to 12” wide and 12” deep. The bottom of the trench should be lined with gravel about 3” deep and covered with landscape fabric. A drainage pipe may be placed in the hole and covered with gravel until the trench is full or simply fill trench with gravel. You can leave the gravel exposed alternating with larger rocks and boulders, giving the appearance of a “dry” stream.
Here are a few informative sites for more info on rain gardening: