Where do I put my rain garden?

The primary goal of a rain garden is to allow water to naturally seep into the ground. The placement of your rain garden in your yard is crucial to the garden’s success and effectiveness. It is important to think about where in your yard water typically flows after a rain event so that you can best decide where to put your garden.

  • Rain gardens are best situated in natural depressions in the landscape of your yard. These low lying areas are where water will naturally flow after rainfall.
  • Make sure you place your garden somewhere that will have decent drainage so that water can seep into the ground within a couple of hours after a rainfall. You don’t want your rain garden to constantly be filled with water like a pond. The water in your rain garden should be absorbed into the ground within 24 hours at most. If stagnant water sits in your garden for too long, it can attract mosquitoes. You can determine the drainage of your potential garden by performing an easy infiltration test.
A swale built for the Clark Botanic Gardens rain garden.
A swale built for the Clark Botanic Gardens rain garden.
  • Keep your rain garden at least 10 feet away from buildings to avoid the risk of seepage into structures. You can always use a  gutter lead or a swale (a small stream-like depression, shown left) to direct rain water to the garden from rooftops or driveways. It is also important to keep your rain garden about 10 feet away from your septic system, as the seepage of water can interfere with how it operates. However, it is okay to plant your rain garden near impervious surfaces such as patios, sidewalks, or driveways so that rain water can flow from them into your garden.
  • Make sure to create a space for excess water to go if necessary. Try not to direct overflow water onto someone else’s property or onto hard surfaces (such as streets) that will lead the water into storm drains.
  • It is also important to remember to place your rain garden in full or partial sunlight. This ensures that your plants can grow well in the sunlight and will help with plant uptake of water as well as evaporation of excess water.