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Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are relatively new ideas.  Because of this, it takes a little more work to plan and install them compared to more traditional landscaping projects.  However, this site will help you every step of the way, so keep reading to do your part for water quality!

 

"I LOVE RAIN GARDENS FOR THEIR BEAUTY AND ABILITY TO DRAW INTERESTING BIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES TO MY FRONT YARD, ALL WHILE IMPROVING WATER QUALITY AND SOLVING MY OWN LOT DRAINAGE CONCERNS." - Heather W., Indianapolis


Planting Plans

You can customize your rain garden to not only improve water quality but also fit it to your own landscape preferences or needs. Do you have a lot of shade in your yard? Do you want to make sure plants don’t get too tall and block your views? Or would you like a bird and butterfly garden? See below for easy to understand planting plans and plant lists, as well as step-by-step directions for building your garden.

Don't fight your site! Thinking ahead of time and making a plan based on the amount of sunlight, soil type, and drainage of your site will make all the difference between a thriving native plant rain garden and one that fails.


Installation and Maintenance Resources

Native plants and landscapers familiar with rain gardens can sometimes be hard to find, but that should not discourage you from installing a rain garden.  There are several organizations that can provide technical assistance to you, includinng Penn State Cooperative Extension, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Sullivan Renaissance.


Hire a Professional

The planning and construction of a small rain garden can usually be a do-it-yourself project; however in some instances, it may be necessary or desirable to hire a professional. You want to make sure the professional you hire is able to design your project to your satisfaction and also fulfill city requirements (if there are any).  When you are looking for a professional, use recommendations from neighbors, online resources and other databases. The following are all good questions to ask potential candidates to ensure you will be satisfied with their work:

  • What experience do you have with rain gardens?
  • Are you willing to work with homeowners?
  • Are you knowledgeable about local requirements and permits?
  • Can you help me find an appropriate location and design for my rain garden?
  • Can you help with drainage, infiltration and soil requirements for placing a rain garden on my property?

Maintenance Guides

One great benefit of native plants is that they are low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any attention.  You will certainly need to weed and maintain your rain garden to keep it functioning properly and visually pleasing. Here are a few resources to get you started.


Permits

Some areas may require a permit for you to install a rain garden. You may want to check with your planning and zoning department to see if any special action is required for native plantings. When installing a rain garden, you will also need to call before you dig to make sure you don’t dig into any underground utilities! Simply call before you plan to start to have the utility companies come out and mark your utilities for free.

Call Before You Dig: PA

Call Before You Dig: NY


Registration

The National Wildlife Federation offers a certification program for backyards, neighborhoods, businesses, schoolyards, and just about any other property.  Once a property is certified, the landowner has the option to install a nice sign identifying the area as wildlife-friendly.


 


Still need information?

View our frequently asked questions about rain gardens!

Rain Garden FAQs

    How does a rain garden work?

    Click here for an animated view of how a rain garden works. 

      Need help selecting plants?

      The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website recommends native species for each state and a variety of situations.

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