Have you been looking at that wet spot in your yard and thinking, “Hmmm, should I
do something about that?” Are you interested in helping to protect Lake Erie from
stormwater runoff? (I hope you are loudly exclaiming “Yes!”) Are you looking for a
way to add more native plants to your property? (Also an excited and loud “Yes!”
right?) Well, then it’s time to install a rain garden!
What is a rain garden? A rain garden is a sunken flower bed planted with native
plants and sized to capture stormwater runoff so that the water doesn’t flow
untreated into storm sewers and nearby streams. Rain gardens are design to mimic
the natural water cycle. Stormwater runoff is collected, filtered through the soil,
taken up by plants and recharging the groundwater. As well as managing water,
rain gardens also provide beauty and habitat for our native wildlife. Rain gardens
are not a pond and will not breed mosquitoes. More often than not, a properly
installed rain garden will be dry.
Within the structure of a rain garden, there are three different planting zones
with varying levels of soil moisture. Different plants with different water
tolerances are needed for each zone. (Yay! More plant shopping!) Native plants and
nativars are recommended for rain gardens because they are hardy and adaptable.
If you would like to learn more about rain gardens and how to install them, please
see the recording of my webinar “Rain Gardens 101” at
And if you would like to learn even more than that, the NEO Master Rain Gardener
Program is a 5-class course that teaches participants how to manage excess water
by designing and installing a rain garden. The program is coordinated by the
Chagrin River Watershed Partners, the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation
District, and the Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District. It is an
excellent course and I highly recommend taking it!
Here is the NEO Master Rain Gardener website for those looking for more
information on this program:
Those that have taken the program (like me!) will be familiar with the NEO Rain
Garden Plant Filterable List. I have taken the plant list from that spreadsheet and
highlighted the plants that Avonlea Gardens carries to make it easier for you to
plan your rain garden. (Available for download – just click the button above!)
Let’s plant native plants and conserve our water!