Rain garden in Chisago county

Gardening presents the double benefit of improving your home’s aesthetic, as well as being therapeutic. This year, consider taking on your garden in a new way—by planting a rain garden.

Rain gardens are flat-bottom gardens built in a bowl shape, which allows water to collect and percolate slowly into the ground instead of rushing toward storm drains. This helps keep pollutants from entering our waterways. Rain gardens are easy to maintain and are attractive to birds, butterflies and other pollinators important for the ecosystem.

Perennial native plant species are used in rain gardens. Choosing the correct plants for your soil and climate will allow them to thrive. Once these gardens establish a strong root system, the amount of work decreases significantly and can largely be left to nature.

Rain Garden Tips

Diagram from the Cuyahoga SWCD rain garden manual

The purpose of this garden is to allow water to disperse and settle down into the soil instead of running of into storm drains. An ideal place to plant is between the down spout and the storm drain, at least a couple feet from foundation.

If you have a low spot in your yard that tends to puddle, a rain garden could be the perfect solution.

To plant a rain garden, you should dig six to eight inches down and then fill that area in with soil. This is different from most gardens, where the soil is added above the ground.

Locally run garden centers can identify which plants are hearty and would be the best fit for your rain garden. An online search of native Ohio plants is also effective.

Planting certain flora will attract more butterflies to your yard. Good examples include the cardinal flower and a variety of cone flowers.

Maintain the garden by weeding and mulching to ensure plants become established. Mulch aids water retention and the establishment of roots. Each year, the amount of time you have to put into maintenance will decrease.

To find out more about the benefits and instructions on how to build a rain garden in your yard or community, contact your county Soil and Water Conservation District.

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