Add a beautiful landscape feature to your yard while also helping the environment by creating a rain garden.

What is a rain garden?

Rain gardens are areas of shrubs, flowers, or perennials that have been planted on a slope to soak up and purify rainwater. They only hold water when it rains, and even then the water drains within 12 to 48 hours into the soil and eventually the groundwater.

Why do we need rain gardens?

They reduce standing water and flooding and lessen the areas where mosquitoes can breed. Rainwater often becomes polluted with dirt, bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, oils, and garbage as it collects on roofs, yards, or driveways. This water runs into drains and then flows directly into local streams and ponds, harming the wildlife and contaminating drinking water. Rain gardens prevent this contamination by soaking up the rain, which will drain into the groundwater purified.

How do you make a rain garden?

You must first choose a sloped location about ten feet from any building and contact local utilities to ensure you will be able to dig 2-3 feet deep in this area. The size of your yard and the amount of water runoff a certain area has will determine how big and how deep the garden needs to be.

Dig a hole in the garden and measure how fast the water drains. If the water level drops a ½ inch in one hour, then the entire pond will drain 12 inches in about 24 hours, so the depth should be about 12 inches. If the water level drains too slow, add a layer of about six inches of gravel to the bottom of the garden. The soil on top should be a mix of sand, topsoil, and compost.

Select plants that thrive in “average to moist” conditions for the middle of the garden and “average to dry” for plants on the outer, higher edges of the garden. Because the garden is designed to drain in 24 hours, do not pick plants that thrive in very moist conditions, because they will be thirsty most of the time.

How do you care for a rain garden?

During the first year, you should weed your garden regularly and include large decorative rocks near the entrance of the garden to prevent young plants from drowning. Water them a ½ inch every week that you don’t get rain and maintain a layer of shredded hardwood mulch in the area. Once the plants have matured a little, they will be able to handle large amounts of water or dry spells a little easier.

Rain gardens are great ways to look after the environment while also adding a pretty space to your yard. The costs and effort of keeping up the garden are far outweighed by the benefits of reducing standing water and preventing mosquitoes from breeding in certain areas. If you're looking for more ways to help the environment, the Hall Acura Virginia Beach team can help you get into one of the new fuel-efficient vehicles in our inventory, so contact us today.