Create a rain garden

Interested in creating your own rain garden? Contact us for free advice on techniques and plants to suit everyone from purple thumbs to master gardeners.

Rain gardens are a simple and effective tool that homeowners, businesses, schools and religious institutions can use to reduce the volume and improve the quality of stormwater runoff from their own properties.

Rain gardens are also economical, compared with installing ever-larger culverts (pipes) to  handle our increasingly extreme rainfall and snowmelt events.

There are many styles of rain garden:

Downspout rain gardens are among the simplest to install, with or without a barrel for rainwater storage.  Just be sure that any roof water not absorbed by your downspout rain garden has somewhere safe to flow to – not the neighbour’s basement (or your own)!  Here are some easy downspout rain gardens:  

Gravel downspout gardens are easy and effective for absorbing runoff from small roof areas    A combination of rocks and plants can handle greater amounts of water    Downspouts provide water for gardens throughout Boundary Park, Surrey  

Where there's a will, there's a way - photo of creative downspout    Water from a disconnected downspout can also be stored in a rain barrel, with an overflow hose that empties into the garden (if it's safe to do so) or into the drainage system.

Driveway rain gardens        (within or alongside your driveway) are usually best created when you’re having the driveway repaved, and can slope it gently toward level or sunken vegetation.

Simple sunken garden takes roof and driveway runoff.    Driveway runoff in Silver Ridge Subdivision, Maple Ridge, filters through landscaping before excess water, if any,  heads down storm drain    Lowest corner of Surrey driveway is porous and absorbs runoff

Ditch or boulevard rain gardens are a delight, like miniature creeks -- but be sure to contact your municipal engineering department before you begin.  Then cancel your gym membership and jogging for a couple of months while you install the garden! 

 Screening soil for ditch-based rain    Rocks, sword ferns, low Oregon grape and salal create functional and low-maintenance ditch-based rain garden in West Van    Informal planting transforms a grassy swale     Ditch-based rain garden in North Delta

Here’s a handy checklist of things to think about when creating a rain garden.

If your garden will be small and simple – perhaps just a sunken area receiving roof water from a single roof downspout -- then only a few of the items on the checklist may be relevant to your situation.

But if your project is large or complex, it will have a greater chance of being successful in every way if you consider all 14 items on the checklist.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like some advice.

Resources

For more information about creating rain gardens, see

CMHC pamphlet - Rain gardens : improve stormwater management in your yard
https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/grho/grho_007.cfm

Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington
https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1310027.pdf

Seattle Public Utilities RainWise Program http://www.seattle.gov/util/EnvironmentConservation/Projects/ GreenStormwaterInfrastructure/RainWise/index.htm

Soils for Salmon
http://www.soilsforsalmon.org/

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