Rain gardens are relatively new ideas. Because of this, it takes a little more work to plan and install them compared to more traditional landscaping projects. However, this site will help you every step of the way, so keep reading to do your part for water quality!
"I LOVE RAIN GARDENS FOR THEIR BEAUTY AND ABILITY TO DRAW INTERESTING BIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES TO MY FRONT YARD, ALL WHILE IMPROVING WATER QUALITY AND SOLVING MY OWN LOT DRAINAGE CONCERNS." - Heather W., Indianapolis
You can customize your rain garden to not only improve water quality but also fit it to your own landscape preferences or needs. Do you have a lot of shade in your yard? Do you want to make sure plants don’t get too tall and block your views? Or would you like a bird and butterfly garden? See below for easy to understand planting plans and plant lists, as well as step-by-step directions for building your garden.
Installation and Maintenance Resources
Native plants and landscapers familiar with rain gardens can sometimes be hard to find, but that should not discourage you from installing a rain garden. There are several organizations that can provide technical assistance to you, including your County Soil and Water Conservation District and the The White River Alliance. Or, if you’re ready to pursue the project yourself, see below for lists of suppliers and installers to make your garden a reality.
Plant and Soil Suppliers
Wondering where you can find native plants, soil amendments, or drainage stone for your rain garden? The material supply list below is provided to help you find the necessary materials for you to build and plant your project.
Hire a Professional
The planning and construction of a small rain garden can usually be a do-it-yourself project; however in some instances, it may be necessary or desirable to hire a professional. You want to make sure the professional you hire is able to design your project to your satisfaction and also fulfill city requirements (if there are any). When you are looking for a professional, use recommendations from neighbors, online resources and other databases, or consult your local Soil and Water Conservation District. The following are all good questions to ask potential candidates to ensure you will be satisfied with their work:
- What experience do you have with rain gardens?
- Are you willing to work with homeowners?
- Are you knowledgeable about local requirements and permits?
- Can you help me find an appropriate location and design for my rain garden?
- Can you help with drainage, infiltration and soil requirements for placing a rain garden on my property
One great benefit of native plants is that they are low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any attention. You will certainly need to maintain your rain garden to keep it functioning properly and visually pleasing. The City of Indianapolis has developed a great guide to maintaining rain gardens and native planting areas that will help you deal with erosion concerns, weed infestations, and much more. Another great resource is this document by Hoosier Heartland RC&D on rain garden maintenance.
Some areas may require a permit for you to install a rain garden. The City of Indianapolis has developed a permitting flowchart for their area. In other cities and towns, you may want to check with your planning and zoning department or your County Soil and Water Conservation District to see if any special action is required for native plantings. When installing a rain garden, you will also need to call before you dig to make sure you don’t dig into any underground utilities! Simply call the Indiana Underground Plant Protection Service by dialing 811 two days before you plan to start to have the utility companies come out and mark your utilities for free.
In some cities or towns, like Indianapolis, it may also be necessary to register your rain garden so that it can be recognized and monitored. In other areas, this may not be necessary, but you might still like to get some recognition for the work you’re doing for our environment. The Indiana Wildlife Federation offers a certification program for backyards, neighborhoods, businesses, schoolyards, and just about any other property. Once a property is certified, the landowner has the option to install a nice sign identifying the area as wildlife-friendly.