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Residential Rain Gardens
They are…                           They are not…
• Shallow depressions that allow    • Suitable for every site
  water to collect and infiltrate
                                       Limiting factors:
• Effective at removing
  particulates and some                    •   Poorly drained areas
  nutrients from stormwater                •   Underlying ledge
  runoff                                   •   Heavy clay soils
• Planted with native or adapted           •   High water table
  plants that tolerate wet and
  dry conditions                    • Mosquito pools
• Additions to the landscape        • Located near basements or
  installation and/or                 septic systems
  maintenance services you
  offer                             • High tech or hard to install
Residential Rain Garden Installation
• October 2010 installation at Portsmouth, NH
• Rain garden training for professional
  landscapers
• Co sponsors: UNH Cooperative Extension,
  UNH Stormwater Center, Hodgson Brook
  Restoration Project, Northeast States &
  Caribbean Islands Regional Water Center, NH
  Landscape Assoc. and New England Grows!
½ garage roof =
                                            416 square feet




Sizing the rain garden
Measure area of impervious surface to be drained
outflow




Size: An average size is about 1/3 the size of the drainage area and 4-8” deep.
With an adjustment for the slope here, the size of the rain garden needed was
about 150 square feet (4 inch depth).
Perc test
An infiltration rate of 1.5” per hour minimum is recommended.
Outline with flags, string or paint
Call Dig Safe now! Then remove the layer of sod, saving it to use on the
berm later, or move it to another spot.
Excavation
The soil removed from the middle can be used to berm the edges on a
sloped site.
Hand excavation
Finish up with shovels and rakes to get the surface contoured as desired.
Inflow
Sometimes landscape fabric is pinned underneath inflows and outflows
to protect soil against erosion.
Leveling
Check the depth using strings a carpenter’s level and measuring tape;
adjust as needed.
More leveling

The bottom should be very level so water infiltrates evenly throughout.
Add soil amendments
Compost, lime, nutrients based on soil test and site. Be aware of
state/local restrictions within shoreland protection zones.
Grading outflow
You may protect the outflow and inflow areas with rocks to protect
against erosion during heavy flow. Besides, all those rocks we dug up
have to go somewhere ….
Grading outflow
Recheck depth and grade; remember water flows downhill!
Placing plants
Rain garden plants remove water through their roots and release it to the
atmosphere. Their roots also help keep the soil in place and maintain
organic matter.
Placing plants
Mostly native plants are used; in this case, herbaceous perennials and
grasses are mixed together. In larger rain gardens, shrubs and/or a tree or
two may be added. Plant selection is planned for wet to dry zones within
the garden, depending on soil and site characteristics. Most rain gardens
don’t stay very wet very long.
Planting
Fall is a good time for root establishment, even though tops are going
dormant.
Minimize compaction
Be gentle and avoid compacting the soil, which reduces drainage. Plant
from the edges as much as possible.
Mulching
Three inches of shredded hardwood mulch is commonly used. Chips or
nuggets may float. Recycled, shredded yard waste can covered with an
inch of a more attractive hardwood mulch, as shown here.
Finished rain garden
Maintenance requirements

Water and weed as needed for first season.

Replenish mulch until plants provide adequate
ground cover.

Inspect for signs of problems, such as a plugged
inflet, uneven flow or gullies during and after a
rain event. Does the rain garden overflow through
the outlet during a heavy rain?

Look for sediment accumulation in the rain
garden. This means it is working! As it
accumulates, you will need to remove it
occasionally with a flat shovel.

As with other gardens, plants will self-select over
time. Don’t fight the site!
For more information on rain gardens in
        the northeast:
        • Vermont, Maine and Rutgers (New
          Jersey) all have excellent rain garden
          manuals on line
        • This presentation and links to other sites
          will be posted on our web page
        http://extension.unh.edu/Agric/AGNLT.htm

Presentation by Dr. Cathy Neal, Extension Professor and Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Univ. of New
Hampshire, Durham NH. Additional photos courtesy of Margaret Hagen of UNH Cooperative Extension and
Candace Dolan of the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project.

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NH: Residential Rain Gardens

  • 1. Residential Rain Gardens They are… They are not… • Shallow depressions that allow • Suitable for every site water to collect and infiltrate Limiting factors: • Effective at removing particulates and some • Poorly drained areas nutrients from stormwater • Underlying ledge runoff • Heavy clay soils • Planted with native or adapted • High water table plants that tolerate wet and dry conditions • Mosquito pools • Additions to the landscape • Located near basements or installation and/or septic systems maintenance services you offer • High tech or hard to install
  • 2. Residential Rain Garden Installation • October 2010 installation at Portsmouth, NH • Rain garden training for professional landscapers • Co sponsors: UNH Cooperative Extension, UNH Stormwater Center, Hodgson Brook Restoration Project, Northeast States & Caribbean Islands Regional Water Center, NH Landscape Assoc. and New England Grows!
  • 3. ½ garage roof = 416 square feet Sizing the rain garden Measure area of impervious surface to be drained
  • 4. outflow Size: An average size is about 1/3 the size of the drainage area and 4-8” deep. With an adjustment for the slope here, the size of the rain garden needed was about 150 square feet (4 inch depth).
  • 5. Perc test An infiltration rate of 1.5” per hour minimum is recommended.
  • 6. Outline with flags, string or paint Call Dig Safe now! Then remove the layer of sod, saving it to use on the berm later, or move it to another spot.
  • 7. Excavation The soil removed from the middle can be used to berm the edges on a sloped site.
  • 8. Hand excavation Finish up with shovels and rakes to get the surface contoured as desired.
  • 9. Inflow Sometimes landscape fabric is pinned underneath inflows and outflows to protect soil against erosion.
  • 10. Leveling Check the depth using strings a carpenter’s level and measuring tape; adjust as needed.
  • 11. More leveling The bottom should be very level so water infiltrates evenly throughout.
  • 12. Add soil amendments Compost, lime, nutrients based on soil test and site. Be aware of state/local restrictions within shoreland protection zones.
  • 13. Grading outflow You may protect the outflow and inflow areas with rocks to protect against erosion during heavy flow. Besides, all those rocks we dug up have to go somewhere ….
  • 14. Grading outflow Recheck depth and grade; remember water flows downhill!
  • 15. Placing plants Rain garden plants remove water through their roots and release it to the atmosphere. Their roots also help keep the soil in place and maintain organic matter.
  • 16. Placing plants Mostly native plants are used; in this case, herbaceous perennials and grasses are mixed together. In larger rain gardens, shrubs and/or a tree or two may be added. Plant selection is planned for wet to dry zones within the garden, depending on soil and site characteristics. Most rain gardens don’t stay very wet very long.
  • 17. Planting Fall is a good time for root establishment, even though tops are going dormant.
  • 18. Minimize compaction Be gentle and avoid compacting the soil, which reduces drainage. Plant from the edges as much as possible.
  • 19. Mulching Three inches of shredded hardwood mulch is commonly used. Chips or nuggets may float. Recycled, shredded yard waste can covered with an inch of a more attractive hardwood mulch, as shown here.
  • 21. Maintenance requirements Water and weed as needed for first season. Replenish mulch until plants provide adequate ground cover. Inspect for signs of problems, such as a plugged inflet, uneven flow or gullies during and after a rain event. Does the rain garden overflow through the outlet during a heavy rain? Look for sediment accumulation in the rain garden. This means it is working! As it accumulates, you will need to remove it occasionally with a flat shovel. As with other gardens, plants will self-select over time. Don’t fight the site!
  • 22. For more information on rain gardens in the northeast: • Vermont, Maine and Rutgers (New Jersey) all have excellent rain garden manuals on line • This presentation and links to other sites will be posted on our web page http://extension.unh.edu/Agric/AGNLT.htm Presentation by Dr. Cathy Neal, Extension Professor and Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham NH. Additional photos courtesy of Margaret Hagen of UNH Cooperative Extension and Candace Dolan of the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project.