Combining beauty and function, a rain garden is a landscaped feature of native vegetation planted in a small depression formed on a natural slope that collects stormwater (rain and melted snow), better allowing it to absorb into the ground.
Rain gardens complement any style of landscape and can be adapted to personal preferences. They can be large or small and can take advantage of pockets of space in your yard. A simple way to enhance your property’s curb appeal while helping the environment.
Benefits of Rain Gardens
Rain gardens are not only beautiful, but they are also functional. By planting a rain garden, you can help maintain the natural water cycle while protecting wildlife, local rivers, lakes, and drinking water sources.
- Limit the amount of water and contaminants that enters the local storm drain system. Stormwater run off is typically directed towards the street and municipal sewers, picking up contaminants such as road salt, oils, fertilizers, animal waste, garbage, etc. The contaminated water then ends up in local water sources including Lake Simcoe, harming water quality and local wildlife.
- Reduce the potential for flooding, drainage problems and stream bank erosion by helping water soak into the ground naturally.
- Act as a natural filter and reduce the quantity of pollutants that run from our yards and roads into our waterways.
- Are low maintenance, containing native plants that require little maintenance once they are established.
- Attract and provide a habitat for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects, such as mosquito-consuming dragonflies.
- Complement any style of landscape and enhance the beauty of the surrounding neighbourhood.
Compared to a patch of lawn, a rain garden allows approximately 30% more water to soak into the ground!
What Makes a Rain Garden Different from a Traditional Garden?
In the design of a rain garden, typically six to twelve inches of soil is removed and replaced with tillage, compost and sand to increase water infiltration. The soil alteration required can depend on the current soil type, so you may want to obtain a soil test.
Rain gardens are typically formed on the downside of a slope on your property and collect rainwater runoff from the lawn, roof and/or the driveway. Once water collects in the rain garden, infiltration may take up to 48 hours after a major rainfall. Rain gardens incorporate native vegetation meaning little to no fertilizer is needed and after the first year, maintenance is usually minimal.
Is a Rain Garden Right for Me?
- Do you have a low-lying area on your property where water naturally flows during a heavy storm?
- Are you interested in installing a new garden, or do you have an existing garden that you would like to redesign?
- Is your potential garden space at least 3 metres away from any building foundation on your property and not over or near a septic tank, drainfield, or wellhead?
- Does your potential garden space have a slope of no more than 12%?
- Is there a source of water to feed your potential garden space, such as a downspout or a rain barrel?