How To Make A Rain Garden

What is a rain garden? Kitsap Conservation District
What is a rain garden? Kitsap Conservation District from

With increasing concerns about water pollution and runoff, many homeowners and communities are turning to rain gardens as a solution. Rain gardens are not only visually appealing but also help to filter and absorb rainwater, reducing runoff and preventing water pollution. If you are interested in creating a rain garden, here are some steps to get you started:

1. Choose the Right Location

The first step in creating a rain garden is to choose the right location. Look for an area in your yard that receives a lot of rainfall and has good drainage. Avoid areas near the foundation of your house or septic systems.

2. Determine the Size

Next, determine the size of your rain garden. The size will depend on the amount of rainfall your area receives and the size of your property. A general rule of thumb is to make your rain garden one-third the size of the impervious area draining into it. For example, if you have a 300 square foot rooftop that drains into the rain garden, the garden should be approximately 100 square feet.

3. Dig the Basin

Once you have chosen the location and determined the size of your rain garden, it’s time to dig the basin. The basin should be about 6-8 inches deep. Remove any existing grass or vegetation from the area.

4. Create Infiltration Trenches

To enhance the drainage of your rain garden, create infiltration trenches. These are shallow trenches dug at the bottom of the basin. The trenches should be about 3-4 inches deep and filled with gravel. The trenches will help to absorb excess water and promote infiltration into the soil.

5. Select the Right Plants

Choosing the right plants for your rain garden is crucial for its success. Select plants that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions, as rain gardens can experience periods of heavy rain followed by drought. Native plants are often a good choice, as they are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance. Some popular choices for rain gardens include switchgrass, butterfly weed, and black-eyed Susan.

6. Plant the Garden

Once you have selected the plants, it’s time to plant the rain garden. Dig holes for the plants in the basin, making sure to space them appropriately. Place the plants in the holes and backfill with soil, firming it gently around the roots. Water the plants thoroughly after planting.

7. Mulch and Maintain

To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, apply a layer of mulch around the plants. Mulch also helps to prevent erosion and runoff. Maintain your rain garden by watering during dry periods, removing weeds, and pruning plants when necessary.

8. Monitor and Evaluate

After creating your rain garden, it’s important to monitor and evaluate its performance. Keep an eye on how well it absorbs and filters rainwater. If you notice any issues, such as pooling water or poor drainage, you may need to make adjustments to the design or plant selection.

Benefits of Rain Gardens

Rain gardens offer numerous benefits for homeowners and the environment. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Reduced runoff: Rain gardens help to reduce stormwater runoff, which can cause erosion, flooding, and water pollution.
  • Water filtration: The plants and soil in a rain garden act as natural filters, removing pollutants and sediments from the rainwater before it enters groundwater or local water bodies.
  • Habitat creation: Rain gardens provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, enhancing biodiversity in your yard.
  • Improved aesthetics: Rain gardens can add beauty and visual interest to your landscape, with a variety of colorful plants and flowers.
  • Water conservation: By capturing and storing rainwater, rain gardens help to conserve water and reduce the need for irrigation.


Creating a rain garden is a great way to manage stormwater runoff and prevent water pollution. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a beautiful and functional rain garden that benefits both your property and the environment. Remember to choose the right location, size your garden appropriately, select the right plants, and monitor its performance. With a little effort and planning, you can make a positive impact on water conservation and create a sustainable landscape.

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