Yellow, purple, and orange flowers stand in a garden as rain falls, showing how rain gardens can help prevent water damage

Green space is becoming harder to find in subdivisions and cities across Canada. Not only is this harmful to bugs, birds, and other local wildlife looking for a safe place to live, but it also means water from heavy rainfalls has fewer places to go. If there isn't enough long-rooted plants and soil in an area, rainwater is more likely to overflow from storm drains, increasing the risk of water damage to cars and homes.

Luckily, you can give wildlife and water a safe place to go. Grab your shovel and gardening gloves and learn how to protect your property and the environment with a rain garden.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden includes a diverse collection of native, deeply rooted plants that absorb excess rainwater. It tends to be shallow, allowing it to redirect, absorb, and filter rainwater as it drains off roads, driveways, roofs, and downspouts.

What are the benefits of planting a rain garden?

A rain garden does more than just brighten up your home's exterior. It can also:

  • Help prevent water damage to your home and car by redirecting and removing excess water from your property after a storm
  • Provide a safe habitat for local wildlife like birds, butterflies, insects, and other pollinators
  • Improve water quality by absorbing run-off and filtering out pollutants, like fertilizer, sediments, and chemicals
  • Help you save on lawn care costs by absorbing more water, keeping grass hydrated, and reducing erosion on your property
  • Add a beautiful feature to your neighborhood and can inspire others to enhance their lawn with a diverse and environmentally friendly garden

Concerned about water damage to your home after heavy rainfalls? Plant a rain garden to help redirect, absorb, and filter water and protect your property.

How to plant a rain garden

Even the most inexperienced gardener can create a beautiful rain garden! Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Plan your garden's location. A rain garden is more effective when it's dug in a spot where water naturally pools or travels in your lawn — like close to a downspout or in a deep groove of your property. The garden bed should be at least five feet away from buildings to reduce the risk of water damage.
  2. Pick permeable soil. Use a sand and compost mix to absorb and filter water effectively.
  3. Pick native plants that can handle changing moisture levels. Do some research in advance to learn what plants are native to your region or share your rain garden plans with the experts at your local nursery to get some additional guidance. Choose plants that can thrive in changing periods of extreme moisture and draught, like clump-forming grasses, ferns, perennials, and shrubs.
  4. Dig your garden bed. Rain gardens should be at least six to twelve inches deep and 100 square feet in size to absorb run-off properly. Once you've removed the sod, add your plants to the garden.
  5. Keep weeds away with mulch. Place wood chips or shredded bark on any exposed soil to lock in moisture and prevent weeds.
  6. Edge your garden. Create a well-defined border, or consider adding a low-profile material, like stones, around your garden to prevent erosion.

Did you know that lawns aren't very efficient at absorbing rainwater? You can stop water from pooling on your property and potentially causing water damage by planting native shrubs, grasses, perennials, and ferns.

Gardening can be so much more than just a relaxing hobby. As heavy rainstorms become more common, a rain garden is a beautiful, low-maintenance way to keep your property dry and boost your neighbourhood's biodiversity.

Want more gardening tips to increase your home's curb appeal? Follow this simple guide to starting a garden as a beginner.

Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter to inspire others to plant their very own rain garden.