Beneficial gardens: Rain gardens

April 26, 2021 Topics: Nature

A rain garden can add a beautiful display of colour to your yard and provide food and habitat to pollinators all while helping to clean our waterways.

A rain garden will help manage stormwater (rain and melted snow) on your property that runs off your roof, lawn and driveway rather than soaking into the ground. Usually when stormwater runs off these areas and into the street’s storm drains, they collect contaminants along the way including fertilizers, pesticides and road salts which are then carried into our nearby lakes and streams. This process is called our watershed.

Rain gardens on the other hand, naturally help to soak up and filter these pollutants though loose deep soil and plant roots which help to protects our local rivers, lakes and drinking water sources.

Contrary to their name, rain gardens are actually dry most of the time. They typically only hold water during and after a rainfall and will drain within 12-48 hours. This prevents water from pooling for long periods of time which inhibits mosquitoes from the breeding.

Unlike most flowerbeds, rain gardens do not have any surrounding barriers and are created using a small dip with a natural slope. They are placed in areas where water runoff occurs and are filled with a special soil that contains a combination of sand and compost to drain properly.

Rain gardens also use native shrubs, flowers and plants that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions that are experienced during and after a rainfall. Native plants are always recommended for rain gardens because they are well suited to our specific growing conditions and best support local wildlife.

A well-designed rain garden is low maintenance and can create a stunning feature in your yard. Remember, before creating a rain garden, stay safe by making sure you click before you dig (it’s free) to ensure you don’t hit any underground utilities. Rain gardens should also be at least three meters away from any building foundation and should not cause drainage issues for you or your neighbour’s properties. Learn how to design and construct a rain garden here.

Not sure a rain garden is the best fit for you yard? Consider our other beneficial gardens including a vegetable garden for fresh delicious produce or a pollinator garden to help local wildlife thrive.

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