How To Build A Rain Garden

by Christine Sine

I have been intrigued by the concept of rain gardens for quite a while and was delighted to see this article from my friends at Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm. It is the best article on rain gardens that I have come across.

How to Build a Rain Garden

Got rain on the brain?

It hasn’t been very rainy yet, but it sure will be again soon. Have you thought about where all that rain water is going to go? Rain gardens will capture the rain water and get into the ground where it belongs!

Every time it rains, we generate a ton of water.  Every drop collected with all of our neighbors, every parking lot, every business, every hard surface, generates rain water.  When we collect all that rain water together, it is usually too much for our local streams, creeks, and lakes to handle. When we pipe all that water to our local waterways, we create a lot of harm – we increase erosion and flooding, reduce native plant populations, and can even increase the spread of invasive species.


Rain gardens were developed as a way for a homeowner to do their part and beautify their property, while also trying to manage rain water at home and get it into the ground where it belongs.

What is a Rain Garden? Rain gardens are shallow depressions, usually six inches deep, that are hand-dug and planted with deep rooted, water-loving native plants.  Essentially our rain water is directed from our roofs to a sited rain garden where water can be captured and temporarily stored it for one to three days in duration. Once there, the plants, soil and microbes in the soil work together to clean the water, while the deep rooted native plants create capillaries that help it to soak into the ground .

When these gardens are not soaking up rain water, they are looking great and enhancing our landscapes. Native plants have great leaf textures, a variety of flower colors and heights to create interesting and unique gardens for our homes.

How to Build a Rain Garden:
For more “how-to” information on rain gardens, please visit our resource page.

Rain Garden Plant Lists for sunny & shady sites available on our website.

This article was written by Soulsby Farm’s good friend John Gishnock of Formecology. John is the foremost authority in Rain Gardens in the Midwest and gives lectures throughout the US on subjects that include rain gardens, natural stone hardscape features, native landscape design, and sustainable landscape features. For information about John and his company please visit his website or click on the links above.

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Jim Fisher May 30, 2012 - 6:37 am

A few years ago, our city of 85,000 started putting in rain gardens whenever they tore up a street to put in (or repair) curbs and gutters. The gardens are strategically placed in the front lawns of homeowners who agree to maintain them and the curb is modified to accommodate overflows during heavy downpours. I am very encouraged by that. I pray the idea catches on.

Erica Billings May 31, 2012 - 12:57 pm

very cool. what city jim?

Jim Fisher May 31, 2012 - 6:18 pm

Bloomington, MN

Erica Billings June 1, 2012 - 6:51 am

i love it. thanks for sending it jim. good resource to know about.

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