10 Rain Garden Design Ideas

Want to do your bit to help save the planet? Consider adding a rain garden to your yard. Check out these designs for inspiration.

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Photo By: RainDogDesigns.com/wordpress

Flower Power Rain Garden

Rain gardens earn their keep, catching rain water runoff from roofs, driveways and lawns. A well-designed rain garden holds runoff long enough for it to soak into soil, instead of running into storm sewers. It also helps clean rain water runoff by removing up to 90 percent of fertilizer nutrients and up to 80 percent of sediments. Best of all, a rain garden can look gorgeous while effectively handling storm water runoff. This rain garden design features strong summer and fall color, with gold black-eyed Susan, purple Russian sage, purple coneflower and rose-pink 'Autumn Joy’ sedum.

Made for the Shade

Site rain gardens wherever they fit best in your yard, but try to keep them at least 5 to 10 feet away from your home’s foundation. Ideally, try to locate it in a spot where it will collect rain water runoff from nearby hard surfaces, like the walkways surrounding this corner garden. Rain gardens work in sunny, shady or part-shade spots, like this one. Plants including Japanese blood grass, red-flowered crocosmia, feathery red astilbe and green arrowhead plant adapt readily to the fluctuating moisture of a rain garden and ensure season-long interest.

Seeing Double

Consider designing a pair of mirrored rain gardens to flank a central walkway. By the second growing season, these beds will sparkle as lush gardens filled with shrubs, ornamental grasses, sedges, corkscrew rush, perennials and evergreens mature. A stone spillway directs rain water runoff from nearby hard surfaces into the rain garden basin. On the lower side, an overflow spillway and drainage pipe shifts rain water runoff to nearby storm sewer channels when heavy rains fill the rain garden to overflowing. Including an overflow spillway helps ensure water doesn’t backflow to swamp your home’s foundation.

Bridging the Garden

Trade your lawn for a long and lovely rain garden, complete with a bridge to span the water collection basin. This rain garden creates a focal point in the landscape with its footbridge. It’s part of an environmentally friendly front yard that replaces a water-guzzling lawn with eye-catching planting beds. The upper edges of the rain garden feature creeping thyme, which forms a green carpet. Plantings in the basin include ornamental fescue grass, sedge and other regionally-hardy perennials. The bridge elevates the rain garden to a landscape showpiece, tying it to the surrounding setting.

Chicken Coop Rain Garden

Build a rain garden to collect rain water runoff from any building on your property, including a chicken coop. This garden demonstrates classic rain garden design with a berm surrounding the basin that catches and holds rain water runoff. Plantings include moisture-loving sedge and rush in the wettest parts of the garden, and perennials like daylily and ornamental grass on the drier edges.

Ornamental Grasses Steal the Show

Ornamental grasses add year-round texture, movement and color to rain garden designs. Tufts of blue fescue bring a steely hue to this rain garden and blend beautifully with variegated green and gold sedges. A formal paver stone edging gives the garden a formal look that echoes brick raised beds by the house. Using river rock complements a rain garden’s water-related theme and helps water to flow where you want it.

Rain Garden for a Driveway

A small and slender rain garden occupies what was the end of a grassy lawn tucked between a brick walk and driveway. Not only does this rain garden reduce the lawn care routine, it also handles a large amount of rain water runoff that flows from surrounding hardscape. With a rain garden that collects water passively, by gravity flow, it’s important to create openings into the basin at the low points along hardscape where water naturally flows. River rock spillways help guide water into the basin of this rain garden, where it can slowly soak into soil.

Mature Rain Garden

The right regional plants shine when combinations feature contrasting leaf textures. These plantings feature yellow twig dogwood shrubs in the center, surrounded by thin-leaved plants, including daylily, variegated sedge and lavender. Blue junipers interject a pretty evergreen hue.

Parking Lot Rain Garden

Rain gardens can even pop up and work effectively on parking lot areas. After removing asphalt, a rain garden basin could be built along this parking area of Totem Ocean Trailer Express, a shipping and cargo company at the Port of Tacoma, Washington. A traditional rain garden basin planting features a mix of shrubs, perennials and ground covers. The green container is a rain garden in a box. Rain gardens at this site handle roughly 250,000 gallons of rain water runoff annually, which reduces the amount of toxic pollutants washing into nearby Commencement Bay. If designers can build a working rain garden on a parking lot, you can make one work in your yard.

Container Rain Garden

This is the container rain garden tucked into the parking lot rain garden at the Port of Tacoma. It's known as the Splash Boxx bio retention planter system. It's basically a mobile rain garden in a steel container. It adapts the principles of rain garden water filtration to a container that can be used in any location. Rain water runoff from rooftops moves by gravity feed into perforated drain pipes that deposit the water into the garden. This container is deep enough (at least 3 feet of growing depth) to host traditional rain garden plants, including Japanese maple and slough sedges.

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