A Rain Garden Based Upon Local Examples

I am really pleased with our rain garden by the driveway this year. Five years ago the area was paved and at that time, we removed the asphalt and created a bowled garden with a berm at the back.

The garden is 25 feet long and about 10 feet wide. It collects all the water runoff from our cul de sac.

When I help clients with their landscapes or give talks, I always tell people to become familiar with their local landscape. Take a walk at your local park and make note of what native species are growing where (or in similar conditions in your own yard).

I walked the dog at a local park today where the city has been doing a prairie restoration. Many parts of the prairie are moist, and these low lying areas drain into the local watershed creek.

Joe Pye Weed is growing in large patches in the lower lying portion of the prairie along with Swamp Milkweed, Boneset and Swamp Verbena.

Ironweed in the foreground (just finished flowering) along with Joe Pye Weed and Prairie Cord Grass.

A nice combination of Swamp Verbena, Boneset and Black Eyed Susan.

And a large patch of Cup Plant just off the trail in a moist spot. False Sunflower on the right along with (not shown) Wild Bergamot.

Also along the trail in drier sites is Big Bluestem, Indian Grass and Side Oats Grama.
I have replicated many of these native species from this park into the rain garden. Cup Plant makes a nice backdrop or screen reaching heights of 10 feet. Joe Pye Weed, Boneset and Ironweed were planted where the water drains from the cul de sac. Swamp Milkweed is on the front edge and on the drier back side we planted Big Bluestem and False Sunflower.