Warren’s fall season can sometimes come with a plethora of rain. Something that’s helpful in cleaning that rainwater is a rain garden. What’s a rain garden? A rain garden is one of our best practices for cleaning stormwater. Stormwater is rain that comes out of the sky but then washes over surfaces like roofs, parking lots, and streets, and adds pollution to our waterways like rivers, creeks, and ponds. The more Warren residents who put in rain gardens, the cleaner our stormwater will be.
You might want to put in a rain garden, but you’re not sure how.
Start by testing your lawn for where a rain garden should go. Dig a 12-inch hole, fill it up with water. It should completely drain within 12 hours. If it takes longer for the hole to drain, a different location should be considered. Mark the perimeter of your garden with flags or string. Remove sod within the marked area but be sure to call Miss Dig before digging. Once digging is allowed and no buried lines are in sight, you want to dig down to about 12 inches. Hammer stakes around the perimeter of the garden. You can then place a berm made out of the sod that was removed. While building the berm, you can now build an outlet. Building an outlet allows larger storms to safely overflow out of the garden and reduces damage to the berm and plants. Flatten the bottom of the rain garden. Rake out and get spots leveled.
Next, bring in native soil or compost to level out the bottom for plants. Then, dig out a trench and use crushed stone to place pipe in the trench, then bury a downspout in the trench. Use crushed stone where the pipe enters the garden to keep away erosion.
Lastly, time to plant! Plant native plants in your garden. When you’re choosing plants, rain garden plants need to be taller, tolerable to rain, cold and hot seasons, sun exposure, and wind. Once the plants are in the ground, add two inches of mulch to help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Now your rain garden is complete! Be sure to check your rain garden after big storms to make sure everything looks okay.
One inch of rainfall means 600 gallons of water will be captured by a typical rain garden. Captured water won’t go to municipal pipes, won’t add pollution to the waterways, and won’t contribute to flooding. Let’s soak up the stormwater together, Warren!
For more information check out this episode of Going Green where gardeners from MSU talk about fall gardening, our waterways, our lawns, how to plant gardens, what native plants to use, and of course, Rain Gardens. Learn about runoff and stormwater, why they’re a major environmental issue, and how rain gardens help in cleaning stormwater. The gardeners touch on size, shape, what to plant in Rain Gardens.