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Planning Your Rain Garden

Are you considering a rain garden for your yard but not quite ready to commit? Come join our staff for a Rain Garden 101 Talk Tuesday April 16th from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek Reservation in Parma!

To get your creative gardening juices flowing here are your basic planning steps you will need to take before building a rain garden. More details, tips, and tricks can be found in future blogs or at our Master Rain Gardener Workshop this June and July!

Step 1: Call your Community and find out what permits you may need and if a rain garden is allowed. (And if they aren’t allowed, contact your community representatives and express that you’d like to see your community adopt downspout disconnection codes!)

Step 2: Where might you put your garden? Take photos and watch your property during a rain event. Avoid trees, stay 10 feet from foundations and neighbor properties. Do No Harm! Rain gardens should solve problems, not create them. Avoid irrigation lines and utilities.

Step 3: Check out your soil. Do you have sand? (Lucky you!) Or do you have Clay that never seems to drain? Your soil type determines how deep your rain garden should be ( Ohio guidance , Michigan guidance). Don't know the difference between sand and clay? No worries, you just need to do a percolation test!

To do a percolation test: Dig an 18-inch deep hole where you want to place your garden and fill it with water. Wait until it fills and drains (to saturate the surrounding soil), then fill it a second time. Now time how long it takes to drain that second time.

Step 4: How much area will drain to your rain garden? Measure the size of your roof, driveway, and/or yard that will drain to the rain garden.

Step 5: How big should your rain garden be? If you have sand (test hole drained quickly), your rain garden should be about 20% of your measured drainage area. If you have clay (test hole took more than 24 hours to drain), it should be about 30%.

Step 6: Create a base map for your garden plan. Use grid paper and draw your yard and location of your rain garden (try to do this to scale using 1 ft per side of each square). Start thinking about shape and draw a few different options.

Step 7: Pick your plants. Do you have sun or shade? Want butterfly friendly plants? Deer tolerant? Is height a consideration? There are so many things to consider.

Step 8: Pull any necessary permits, Call OUPS and start digging.

More about building your rain garden in a future blog!

See the first blog in our rain garden series: Why Rain Gardens? Why Now?

Blog Author: Elizabeth Hiser, Euclid Creek Watershed Program Manager

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