Prairier Rivers Network: Rain Gardens for Illinois


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Rain Gardens for Illinois

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Prairier Rivers Network: Rain Gardens for Illinois

  1. 1. WHAT IS A RAIN GARDEN? WHY WORRY ABOUT STORM WATER? Do you have a wet basement, water that pools on your property, or a winter skating rink that results from Precipitation that is unable to downspout water rushing down your driveway? With filter into the ground moves into a little effort, you can put that water to work and create basements and streets, sometimes a very attractive landscape feature! A rain garden is a causing flood damage. As storm vegetated depression specially designed to capture and water flows downhill across use rain and snowmelt, collectively known as storm water. lawns and impermeable surfaces, it picks up debris, soil, and Rain gardens receive storm water runoff from upstream chemical contaminants. This drainage areas such as roofs, driveways, and lawns. polluted water runs into storm Water that pools in rain gardens nourishes the plants and drains and empties into rivers and lakes, often without treatment. systems such as wetlands. The influx of storm water into You don’t have to be an engineer to make a rain garden, Illinois waterways not only makes our water resources will last for years! less clean, but also causes the destabilization of banks and RAIN GARDEN BENEFITS increases downstream flooding. Waterways need to be protected Rain gardens provide a number of benefits: from the negative impacts of storm water because they are a source of drinking water, recreation, and wildlife habitat. hummingbirds and butterflies damage traditional lawns storm | Illinois’ statewide leader in river protection, conservation, and restoration
  2. 2. BASIC STEPS SELECTING A LOCATION FOR THE RAIN GARDEN FOR CREATING A Rain gardens are a great way to reduce storm water runoff and beautify the RAIN GARDEN landscape in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. The first step of installing a rain garden is deciding where to put it! Suitable locations include courtyards, lawns, flower beds, and swales along roads or sidewalks. Avoid spots that are unlikely to receive storm water from upstream or uphill surfaces. The most efficient way to determine the location of your rain garden is to observe your property during and after a rainfall. Note both where the water4. Dig the depression comes from and the area it travels to and pools. An ideal spot for a rain garden is an existing depression where water collects but also filters over time.5. Install inflow and Or, create your own depression close to an existing downspout. You can also outflow conveyances be neighborly and intercept water that flows off your property.6. Mulch the rain garden A few more factors to consider when deciding on the location of your rain garden include:7. Plant the rain garden8. Water and weed regularlyPlease refer to the text inthis brochure for more use of native prairie plantsdetails on each step. SOIL TESTING When you have a location in mind, dig a small hole approximately 6 inches deep and determine the soil type and water permeability. Sandy soils areIf you need help determining gritty, whereas clay soils are sticky when wet. Fill the hole with water andthe properties of your soil, observe how long it takes to drain. The soil is suitably permeable if the wateryou can submit a samplefor particle size analysis should drain within a few days. When clay soil is present or permeability isat a soil testing laboratory. low, you can:laboratories located in Illinoisand neighboring states. | Illinois’ statewide leader in river protection, conservation, and restoration
  3. 3. DIGGING THE RAIN GARDEN NATIVE PLANTSBefore digging the rain garden, determine the surface area, depth, and shapethat are appropriate for your site and drainage conditions. A shape thatworks well is a bean-shape, with the long side facing upslope in order tocatch as much storm water runoff as possible. Your rain garden should be River Oatsrate of water percolation into the ground will be low and therefore the raingarden should be relatively shallow and large in area. If the soil has goodside of the suggested ranges. Gray SedgeIt is best to dig your rain garden in the spring or early summer. The sidesshould be gently sloped, so that the rain garden resembles a saucer instead of aalso be used to create a berm on the downslope side of the rain garden. Whenworking on the berm, you can install a rock-lined overflow spillway or a drainpipe so that you have more control of the rate of water loss. This extra step New England Asteris only recommended if you are concerned about the rain garden overflowingduring unusually strong storms and the soil is high in clay. Direct storm waterto the rain garden with a downspout extension or shallow channel. Water canalso come from sump pump outlets. Add decorative rock to soften the impactof incoming water. Swamp MilkweedPLANTING THE RAIN GARDEN they are adapted to local have deep root systems, and are often perennial Golden Alexander aggressive or exotic bloom times so the rain garden remains colorful Virginia Bluebells during the growing season to reduce plant competition Great Blue Lobelia height (ex. wettest spot in rain garden should have the more moisture-tolerant prevent erosion and weeds Cardinal Flower | Illinois’ statewide leader in river protection, conservation, and restoration
  4. 4. PLANTS FOR SUN AND SHADE MAINTAINING THE RAIN GARDEN SUNNY GARDEN The care needed to maintain a functioning rain garden does not Common Name Height Color Bloom Time differ greatly from a regular flower garden. Fertilizers are not needed, but compost can be blended into the fencing the rain garden initially to keep your plants safe from hungry herbivores! During the first year, the rain garden plants will grow larger and develop deep root systems. Simultaneously, SHADY GARDEN the need for weeding and watering will decrease. Common Name Height Color Bloom Time material from the previous growing season. In the spring and fall, replenish the mulch and make sure the inflow and outflow conveyances are clear of debris. MOSQUITOES successfully in well-drained rainThis rain garden brochure is a product of Prairie Rivers Network. To learn more, call usto schedule a rain garden presentation. If you build a rain garden, please send your storiesand pictures to to adult. Rain gardens should filter water completely within a few days. Prairie Rivers Network OTHER RESOURCES More details about rain gardens are available from: This brochure was made possible by donations from the following sponsors: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ “Rain gardens: A how-to Floribunda Gardens The Natural Garden, Inc. Possibility Place Nursery Illustrations by Karie Neukomm and photographs by Michael Jeffords and John Hilty. | Illinois’ statewide leader in river protection, conservation, and restoration