The rain garden is not only a green space but also an opportunity to reduce stormwater runoff, while at the same time providing natural habitat and other benefits. This guide will walk you through step-by-step how to build your own rain garden by 2022.

It can be difficult to build a rain garden. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of building your own rain garden. It will also include pictures and diagrams that make it easy to understand each step. Read more in detail here: what is a rain garden.

If you’re wondering how to make a rain garden, we’ve put up an easy step-by-step tutorial to assist you.

Home gardens are often used to enhance the visual appeal of your landscape, but what if I told you that rain gardens may also help with drainage and provide environmental benefits? Despite popular belief, creating these gardens isn’t as difficult as it seems at first appearance, and the payback is enormous!

You’ll not only brighten up your yard with colorful plants, but you’ll also be helping the environment by repurposing rainwater and gutter overflow.


What is a Rain Garden, and how does it work? What are the advantages?

A rain garden is a special sort of garden that contains plants with deep roots. Its design enables it to collect surplus water from a variety of sources, including roof runoff, driveway runoff, yard runoff, and runoff from other waterproof surfaces.

A rain garden is a plant pond in which rainfall collects in a shallow hole in your yard, hence the name. The plants that are included are mainly native wildflowers and grasses that have been chosen for their exceptional capacity to swiftly drain water into the soil.

Rather of flowing into a local stream or a storm drain, rainfall is diverted away from your home and used to create something beautiful and beneficial. A plastic pipe or a stone swale is used to transfer surplus water from the gutter to the garden bed.

The garden will then swiftly drain the gathered water into the soil over the course of a day or less, assuming it is constructed appropriately. Because this timeframe is far less than the time required for mosquitos to reproduce, you won’t have to worry about those pesky insects.

You may observe surplus rainfall overflowing the garden bed and streaming down the storm drains if there is a very severe rainstorm. Even so, the rain garden is a success since it has diverted precipitation away from your home and relieved some of the strain on the sewage system.

Rain gardens may also assist reduce the amount of debris and pollutants discharged into local rivers and lakes as a result of storm runoff. Some areas, in fact, have such severe runoff problems that homes with rain gardens are eligible for tax benefits.

Rain gardens not only benefit the environment, but they also provide a safe haven and food source for animals, which helps to rejuvenate your lawn. Finally, rain gardens are quite easy to set up, need little care, and maintain their appearance throughout the year!

The Best Way to Make a Rain Garden


Before we get into the specifics of how to make a rain garden, let’s take a look at the equipment and supplies you’ll need.

Materials and Tools

  • A level
  • A spade
  • A wheeled cart
  • PVC piping
  • 1.5-inch river rock
  • Decorative boulders and rocks are optional.
  • Fabric for landscaping
  • Plants that are native to the area (flowers and grasses)


A rain garden is created by creating a berm in a low area of your yard and then constructing swales to drain excess water away from your home and higher areas of your yard. Then you’ll choose a variety of native, deep-rooted plants and grasses that are suitable to your location and water depths to enhance rapid water absorption into the soil.

That was a very brief summary of The Best Way to Make a Rain Garden, now let’s dive deeper into each step:

1. Selecting an Appropriate Location and Slope

The success or failure of a rain garden is mostly determined by where you place it in your yard and how steeply it slopes.

To ensure that you succeed in this activity, follow the guidelines below:

  • To determine the slope of the yard, use a level and a long, straight board. A slope of at least 1 inch in 4.5 feet is required to allow enough water flow into the rain garden (2 percent ).

Drainage will be ineffective if your yard does not naturally satisfy the minimum slope requirement. As a result, you’ll have to use landscaping to generate the slope.

  • Pick a spot in your yard where the rain garden will collect runoff from driveways, downspouts, or high points.
  • To direct water into the rain garden from a downspout, you can choose either running a 4-inch plastic PVC pipe or laying river rock 1.5 inches in width. If your rain garden is farther than 30 feet from the nearest downspout, then PVC piping will offer a more efficient flow.
  • Your rain garden should be placed at least 10 feet away from your home. You’ll avoid the unpleasant situation of water soaking the soil near to the foundation, or worse, water backing up against it, this way.

If there’s water pooling close to the house, use PVC piping to direct it into the rain garden. You may need to tunnel underneath an obstruction such as a walkway to achieve proper channeling.

  • Make sure you’re not standing on top of any subterranean infrastructure like utility wires or a septic tank (at least 25 feet away). Before you start excavating, make sure the utility buildings beneath your property are identified to prevent any legal ramifications if you damage them by mistake. To get any lines laid out, contact your local utility office.
  • Remember to create an overflow area, which is a slightly lower section on one side of the garden with stones to move excess water away from the garden once it fills up. The overflow area should be far enough away from your house and that of your neighbors.
  • Your rain garden should be situated in an area that receives full or partial sunshine (half-day of sunlight at minimum).

2. Select the Correct Depth and Size

After you’ve chosen a spot for your rain garden, you’ll need to determine its depth and size. To do so, you’ll need to figure out how quickly the earth drains water.

The usual rainfall will nearly completely fill the garden, but will be absorbed by the soil within 24 hours.

Simply dig a small hole in the area allocated for the rain garden, fill it with water, and watch how long it takes for it to drain entirely. The idea is to figure out how much water the soil can absorb in a certain length of time.

The porosity of the soil has a big impact on the correct depth. Because sandy soil drains water more efficiently than clay, a garden excavated in the former may be deeper than one dug in the latter. Here’s how to do a soil test:

  • Fill the rain garden with water by digging an 8 x 8 x 8 inch hole in the appropriate location.
  • Check to observe how much the water level has decreased after an hour, then calculate how long it would take for 1 inch of water to drain away. For example, if the water level decreases 1/4 inch in an hour, you may estimate that 1 inch of water would soak into the soil after 4 hours.

A 24-hour period will be long enough for the soil to absorb 6 inches of water at this pace. As a result, this rain garden should be at least 6 inches deep.

It’s time to calculate the garden size now that you’ve calculated the right depth. Begin by calculating how much water would flow down the roof and into the gutter that feeds the garden during a 1-inch rainstorm (an average storm rainfall).

Here’s how to do it:

  • Calculate the estimated area of the roof that a downspout collects water from. For example, in a 2,000-square-foot rectangular home with four downspouts (one on each corner), each downspout would have a runoff area of around 500 square feet.
  • To get the water volume, multiply this area by 1/12 foot (1-inch rainfall depth). Approximately 41.5 cubic feet in this situation.
  • To get the right size, multiply the volume by the depth. So, assuming a soil porosity that allows for a 6-inch (half-foot) deep garden, divide 41.5 by 1/2 to obtain an 83-square-foot garden.

3. Picking and Adding Plants

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It’s now time for the more enjoyable part of this project: selecting plants and placing them in your rain garden. Although growing zones vary by region, several plants are considered conventional choices for this garden design. Artemisia, aster, coneflower, daylily, iris, sedge, and sedum are among them.

You may inquire about additional possible solutions for your location by contacting your local garden specialists or university extension.

Plants classified “medium to moist” for water needs should be placed in the deepest area of the garden bed as a general rule. Plants that are designated “average to dry” should be placed towards the top of your rain garden.

You may believe that moisture-loving plants are the ideal option for a rain garden, but this is not the case. Because of the way this sort of garden is created, it will drain water within 24 hours, leaving dry conditions for plants that need continual water.

As a result, you must be cautious when it comes to plant moisture needs. While any species that meets the minimum criteria will grow well in your rain garden, native plant types are highly recommended.

Native plants, whether wildflowers, grasses, or shrubs, have deeper root systems, can withstand harsh growth conditions, and need less maintenance. In addition, the majority of native plants grow new roots every year. This implies better aeration and additional water channels.

Plant transport from their original containers to your rain garden is a careful operation that includes the stages below:

  • Turn the container over down gently.
  • Shake the container until the plant falls to the ground with the root pointing up. If the roots are twisted, detangle and spread them out gently.
  • Plants should be spaced around one foot apart.
  • The plants’ depth in the soil should correspond to their depth in the container they arrived in.
  • Cover the garden with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch after the plants are in place. This aids in the drainage of runoff and the prevention of weed growth.

4. Give Enough Attention


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The first year is when your rain garden need the most attention. Here are a few pointers to help your garden flourish:

  • Water new plants every other day for the first two weeks, then every few days for the first year.
  • Watering will be required only during extended droughts once they’ve developed their roots. During these times, watering at a rate of around 1 inch per week should enough. The idea is to maintain the soil wet in the top 6 to 20 inches.
  • Check for any built-up debris in the entrance path, the garden bed, and the overflow area on a regular basis.
  • Use shredded hardwood, wood chips, or pine bark as a mulch. If any area of the soil becomes exposed, feel free to apply extra mulch.
  • If you have a lot of runoff, try excavating a notch on the bottom side of the berm to divert away about half of it, since young plants don’t fare well with a lot of water.
  • Consider planting large ornamental boulders at the garden’s entrance to keep newer plants from being washed away in heavy rain.
  • Watering sessions should be done early in the morning or late at night. To assist the soil retain as much water as possible, avoid watering while the sun is at its warmest.

Last Thoughts


There you have it, a step-by-step guide on The Best Way to Make a Rain Garden. The process is fairly simple; first, you’ll choose a low place in your yard to make a berm, then install swales to direct excess water away from your house and the higher spots of your yard.

To decide what depth would give the most effective drainage for your rain garden, evaluate the porosity of the soil in your yard.

Then you’ll choose a variety of native, deep-rooted plants and grasses that are suitable to your location and water depths to enhance rapid water absorption into the soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a rain garden step by step?

A: The easiest way to start is by purchasing a bag of topsoil. You can get this at a garden store or online. Next, purchase some plants that you want in your rain garden and prepare the soil accordingly. During planting season, plant most of the flowers first so they have time to establish their root system before winter sets in.

How do I prepare my soil for a rain garden?

A: Rain gardens are a popular way to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff. In order for them to work, you will need a well-drained area that can be planted with native plants and trees. You will also want room for drainage pipes as well as an impervious surface like concrete or metal sheeting on top of your dirt so rain water does not soak in

What is the difference between a bioswale and a rain garden?

A: A bioswale is a trench designed to collect and remove water from the surface of the ground. Rain gardens use plantings, gravel beds or other features that slow water flow into storm drains and help improve soil quality by trapping nutrients in the top layer of soil.

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