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Backyard Gardening with a Rain Garden

by Shannon Lee, All About Lawns Columnist

When deciding how to plan your backyard gardening, why not consider a rain garden? Rain gardens are attractive, well-planned gardens strategically placed in your backyard to handle stormwater runoff and help prevent erosion. The garden is designed to handle the constant moisture and significant nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, that are typically found in storm runoff.

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There are two types of rain gardens: Under-drained and self-contained.

Under-drained Rain Gardens

An under-drained rain garden allows water to drain into a storm pipe system underneath the garden, carrying water away through a series of drains and thus preventing erosion by redirecting where stormwater goes. The rainwater should be able to drain away within two hours, so the plants used in the under-drained backyard garden should be able to withstand both flooding and drought.

Self-contained Rain Gardens

The rain in a self-contained garden should drain from the surface within four hours, but the soil remains saturated for a longer period of time. A porous planting medium is used for the self-contained rain garden, and typically reaches a depth of two to three feet. This allows the water to pond in the area instead of running off and taking precious topsoil with it.

Plants for Your Backyard Rain Garden

The plants you choose for your rain garden should be native plants that are adapted to the conditions of the area. Smaller and healthier plants often work better than larger plants, as they have more time to adapt as they grow. Plants with fibrous and deep roots have an easier time in a rain garden. Typical plants include woody shrubs, small trees, and herbaceous perennials.


About the Author
Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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