Rain gardens are a great way to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that flows into the streets and storm drains. They are also an excellent way to beautify your yard while providing a habitat for birds and butterflies. In this article, we’ll show you how to make a rain garden in your backyard.

1. Site Selection

The first step in making a rain garden is selecting the right site. You’ll want to choose an area that receives a lot of runoff from your roof, driveway, or other impervious surfaces. Look for a spot that’s at least 10 feet away from your house and any septic systems.

Once you’ve identified the right location, you’ll need to determine the size of your rain garden. A good rule of thumb is to make it about 10% of the size of the impervious surface that’s draining into it. So, if your roof is 1,000 square feet, your rain garden should be around 100 square feet.

2. Design and Excavation

Next, you’ll need to design your rain garden. Consider the shape and depth of the garden, as well as any plants or features you want to include. You can use a garden hose or spray paint to mark the area where you’ll be excavating.

The ideal depth for a rain garden is between 6 and 12 inches. If your soil is compacted or heavy clay, you may need to loosen it up before digging. You can do this by adding compost or other organic matter to the soil.

When excavating your rain garden, be sure to create a gentle slope from the edges toward the center. This will help water flow into the garden and prevent erosion.

3. Soil Preparation and Planting

Once you’ve excavated the area, you’ll need to prepare the soil for planting. Mix in compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and soil quality. You may also need to add sand or gravel to improve drainage if your soil is heavy clay.

When selecting plants for your rain garden, choose species that are native to your area and can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. Some good options include swamp milkweed, black-eyed Susan, and purple coneflower.

Plant taller species in the center of the garden and shorter ones around the edges. This will create a natural-looking slope and help prevent erosion.

4. Mulching and Maintenance

After planting, add a layer of mulch to your rain garden. This will help retain moisture and suppress weeds. You can use a variety of mulches, such as shredded leaves, wood chips, or straw.

To maintain your rain garden, be sure to water it regularly during dry spells. You may also need to weed and prune plants as they grow. Avoid using pesticides or fertilizers in your rain garden, as they can harm the plants and pollute the water.


Q: Do I need any special tools to make a rain garden?

A: You’ll need basic gardening tools, such as a shovel, rake, and garden hose. You may also need a wheelbarrow or other equipment for moving soil and plants.

Q: How long does it take to make a rain garden?

A: The time it takes to make a rain garden depends on the size and complexity of the project. A small garden can be completed in a weekend, while a larger one may take several weeks.

Q: Can I install a rain garden on a slope?

A: Yes, you can install a rain garden on a slope. Just be sure to create a gentle slope within the garden itself to prevent erosion.

Q: Will a rain garden attract mosquitoes?

A: A properly designed rain garden should not attract mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, so a rain garden that drains properly should not be a problem.

Q: Can I use a rain garden to collect water for irrigation?

A: While rain gardens are designed to capture and filter rainwater, they are not typically used for collecting water for irrigation. The water that collects in a rain garden is meant to be absorbed into the ground, not used for watering plants.

Final Thought

Rain gardens are not only beautiful, but they also provide numerous benefits to the environment. By following these steps, you can create a rain garden in your backyard that will reduce stormwater runoff and provide habitat for wildlife. With proper care, your rain garden will thrive and continue to provide benefits for years to come.

By Laura Celine

Laura has been gardening for over 25 years and loves sharing the joys of caring for plants, shrubs, and trees. A passionate organic gardener, she focuses on natural pest control solutions instead of harmful chemicals. Laura grows over 100 varieties of flowers, vegetables, and herbs in her small urban garden and enjoys experimenting with both exotic and heirloom varieties.

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