Rain Gardens

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

                A rain garden can add beauty to your yard, provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife, and help protect water resources.  A rain garden is a shallow depression where native shrubs, flowers and grasses can grow and soak up rainwater and melted snow from your home’s downspouts, driveway, or lawn.  Managing water runoff improves the overall health of the environment.  

When designing a rain garden there are some key components to consider such as the location of the garden placement, the type of soil you have, and the size of garden you would like. Do you have a place in your yard that is a naturally occurring low area where roof runoff collects or into which downspouts empty?   Position your rain garden at least 10 feet from any foundation.  

The type of soil you have will determine the kinds of plants that will thrive in your space. Sandy soils will drain more quickly while heavy clay-enriched soil will retain moisture longer.  

As far as the size of your garden, a good rule of thumb is for it to be one-third as large as the roof area that drains into it.  If your primary goal is to replenish the groundwater, then you will want to dig a deeper, smaller garden.  If the soil is sandy, a smaller area may suffice, but if you have an abundance of clay-enriched soils, you will need a larger rain garden. 

Many perennials native to Wisconsin will thrive in your rain garden due to their long roots which support them during spells of extreme weather, both wet and dry.  The native plants will act as filters to clean the water before it enters back into the ecosystem. 

Remember to consider your soil and light conditions when choosing plants. Here are a few suggestions for your garden: 

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) – height: 2-4 feet; requires full sun to partial shade; white flowers bloom July- October.

Sweet Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) – height: 3-7 feet; full sun to partial shade; purple flowers bloom July- September.

Nodding Pink Onion (Allium cernuum) – height: 1-2 feet; full to partial sun; light pink flowers bloom July- August.

Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) – height: 4 – 8 feet; full to partial sun; yellow flowers bloom early to mid-summer. 

Stop in today to get native plants for your rain garden!  Bloch’s Farm has many tree, shrub, and perennials available!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.  Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! July 24th – 26th: 20% Off Evergreen Trees and Evergreen Shrubs!

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