Select a Spot for the Garden
Rain gardens can thrive almost anywhere! Your rain garden's size, location, and effectiveness are determined by the amount of rain water runoff, the rate at which water soaks into the soil, and the plants that are selected. Next to sidewalks and along driveways are ideal locations.
Your garden should be at least ten feet away from the foundation of your home to collect the maximum amount of rain water runoff. Look for a natural depression in your yard where water from a downspout may already naturally flow. You may have to route water from the downspout to the garden through a grassy depression, called a swale, or through a buried plastic pipe. Your garden will grow best in an area with partial or full sun, but ideas for shadier gardens can be found in Fort Wayne's How-To Manual.
Determine Size and Depth
The size of your garden depends on how much rain water runoff will be going into it. Measure the area that will drain into the garden and perform an infiltration test to find out how fast the water will soak into the ground. For an area such as northeastern Indiana that has primarily clay soil, you should make the garden about 3" deep. Divide the area that will drain into the garden by 3 (the depth) to determine how large the garden should be.
Look for plants that have deep root masses, such as native grasses and wildflowers. Native plants are low-maintenance, and many can tolerate drought or short periods of standing water. They are also less prone to insect damage and disease. Most of the plants shown on Fort Wayne's rain garden designs are perennials and will survive the winter in northeastern Indiana. When selecting plants for the rain garden, consider their height, when they'll bloom, their color, and their overall texture. By using plants that flower at various times, you can create a long blooming season.
Click here to see lists of plants that are appropriate for use in the Fort Wayne area and for information about plants that may be aggressive spreaders or may be toxic to children or pets.