Kaninchen Farm

Working to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Rain Gardens

This page is all about rain gardens. I am now a certified Master Rain Gardener. I'll be sharing some tips and photos of my own rain gardens as they progress. I'll also be adding plant lists, plant photos, and more. I'm also offering rain garden consultations by phone, email, or Skype.


What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a planted depression that collects the rainwater. This can be water off of your roof, driveway, or even lawn. Rain gardens slow the water down, they filter it, and return it safely to the groundwater supply - all within 24-48 hours. Rain gardens can help improve the health of streams/rivers, reduce pollution, and can improve your property in many ways.

My local community college, KVCC, offered a Master Rain Gardener class. I saw an ad on Facebook and thought that this could be the answers to our problem. I signed up for the class gained my Master Rain Gardener certification. It's been a great class, and there are some upcoming classes as well hosted by the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council (www.kalamazooriver.org/mrg).

Why I Took The Class

I took this class because I had a problem spot in my backyard. The area was always wet, even to the point where if I stepped in, I would sink up to my knees. This area bred mosquitoes and simply wasn’t healthy. I wanted to dry it up. My second problem spot was right nearby and we were having issues with mowing and sinking up to our ankles in mud. This spot is also known for having ticks in part because the grass is so tall and it’s shaded, keeping the environment cool and perfect for them. My 2 year old got a tick here and contracted Lyme disease. Getting rid of this front problem spot would help improve our family’s health.


Why Isn’t My Garden 10’ From The House/Fence?

Rain gardens are supposed to be at least 10' from buildings or things like fence posts. I have a unique situation. My house is built into a hill, with multiple smaller slopes. In short, my house is the lowest point and where all the water runs to, runs along, and collects. Thankfully I have no water in my basement, but the standing water is within 2-3’ of it. I had no option other than to put a rain garden here in an attempt to control water flow and dry up the ground.


What Results I Hoped To Get (and what I’ve seen)

My biggest hope was to get rid of the standing water and for the ground to not be as mushy. I wasn’t really after putting in more plants, or using the space for more than grass. I just really wanted that ground dried up and for the mosquito breeding ground to be gone. So far I have seen that happen in the back garden. The rain came down, the water ran into the garden, and it stayed there. It was all gone within 36 hours of the rain stopping. I’m very pleased. The front garden has done just as well once planted.


What I Plan to do Afterwards

Now that I've been trained to educate people about, design, and build rain gardens, I hope to do more of them. I’ve already gotten a couple of requests to help with designing and installing rain gardens. I am now offering consultations to people wishing to put in rain gardens. I plan on adding a few blog posts about them and hope to get more people interested in planting rain gardens. I’m also teaching classes about rain gardens to some of local groups (see the Events page).



Why I Chose My Plants

My family is making a homestead, but we have limited space to grow in (0.3 acres). Everything I put in the yard needs to be edible, medicinal, or useful in some way (not just pretty). I also had to take care in choosing some of my plants because they will be going into the animal run. This area has chickens and ducks, so everything needed to be non toxic to them, but also resistant so they wouldn’t use it as a snack. I looked at lists of rain garden plants for part sun, I also looked at lists for chicken resistant plants, and edible/medicinal plants. If a plant was on all 3 lists, I added it to my list, and we chose the ones we thought would be best for us. Some of our plants also came for free from the yard, the woods, and our extended family. Please note that if a plant is listed here as medicinal, that means that it has been used historically as a medicinal. Do not consume anything medicinal without consulting with your health care provider.

Back

Blue Flag Iris

Yellow Iris

Ostrich Fern Matteuccia struthiopteris - edible

Columbine Aguilegia ‘Biedermeier - medicinal

Comfrey Symphytum Uplandicum - medicinal

Elderberry Sambucus nigra- edible, medicinal

Service Berry  Amelanchier - edible


Front

Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus - edible

Purple Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium purpureum - edible

Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum - medicinal

Lizard’s Tail Saururus cernuus - medicinal

Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum - medicinal

  • Before making the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.
    Before making the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.
  • Right after planting.
    Right after planting.
  • Before the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.
    Before the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.
  • Immediately after a good storm. This water was all gone within 36 hours. The rain garden works.
    Immediately after a good storm. This water was all gone within 36 hours. The rain garden works.
  • This is the rear rain garden a few weeks later.
    This is the rear rain garden a few weeks later.
  • This is the front rain garden right after planting. This rain garden eliminated the sinking wet grass and gained us several square feet of usable yard.
    This is the front rain garden right after planting. This rain garden eliminated the sinking wet grass and gained us several square feet of usable yard.
  • A close up of the front rain garden when the Wild Geranium was blooming.
    A close up of the front rain garden when the Wild Geranium was blooming.
  • A mini rain garden to relieve flooding from the hose tap.
    A mini rain garden to relieve flooding from the hose tap.
Before making the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.
Before making the rain garden. This area usually had standing water for weeks at a time.