WHAT IS A RAIN GARDEN?
First things first, what actually is a rain garden, and how do they work? In short, a rain garden is an outdoor space that's been specifically designed to tolerate heavy rainfall and collect runoff, helping to alleviate problems related to waterlogged soil.
'They're essentially a plant-filled hollow designed to absorb rainwater runoff from areas such as roofs, driveways, or patios,' explains Tony O'Neill
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A RAIN GARDEN?
Besides helping your backyard withstand heavy rain, there are a myriad of ecological benefits that come with building a rain garden. First off, they're a great way to embrace wildlife gardening by offering a habitat to the likes of dragonflies, pond skippers, and other insects, as well as acting as a watering hole for small mammals.
HOW DO YOU BUILD A RAIN GARDEN?
If you're keen to give rain gardening a go, be prepared to make a serious commitment. There's more to this practice than digging a slight hole and planting a few moisture-tolerant plants around it - you'll need to take the grade of your yard into account, the ground foundations, and the average rainfall in your area.
WHAT PLANTS SHOULD YOU INCORPORATE IN A RAIN GARDEN?
Last but not least, you'll need to choose the right plants for the job. It goes without saying, you should avoid plants that like full sun and heat, instead opting for deep-rooted plants that prefer damp soil. Here are some suggestions from Tony.
1. Swamp Milkweed This perennial will tolerate wet conditions and lure pollinators with its attractive pink flowers. 'It's ideal for the lowest part of a rain garden where water tends to pool,' Tony says. 2. Blue Flag Iris - Irises are a popular option for ponds, and the same goes for your damp rain garden, too. 'This plant loves moist soils,' notes Tony. 'The beautiful blue-violet flowers of this iris species also add a dash of color.' 3. Joe Pye Weed - This plant will tolerate periods of drought as well as saturated soil, making it great for unpredictable climates. As Tony notes: 'It boasts tall, striking purple-pink flowers that are a magnet for butterflies.' 4. Red Osier Dogwood - 'Known for its striking red stems in winter, this hardy shrub enjoys damp soil and offers structure to any rain garden,' says Tony. 5. River Birch - If you have room for a tree in your rain garden, the River Birch is perfect for the job. 'Native to wetlands, this tree is known for its lovely peeling bark.'