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MERTZ LIBGUIDES

Rain Gardens  

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2016 URL: http://libguides.nybg.org/raingardens Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Ask a Plant Expert

phone 

718-817-8681

Monday-Friday

9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

 

email

plantinfo@nybg.org

 

address

The LuEsther T. Mertz Library 
The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10458

 

Noteworthy Books related to Rain Gardens

Cover Art
A Guide to Native Plants of the New York City Region - Margaret B. Gargiullo
Call Number: SB439.24.N6 G37 2007
ISBN: 9780813540429
Publication Date: 2007-06-28

Cover Art
Native Plants of the Northeast - Donald J. Leopold
Call Number: SB439.24.N67 L46 2005
ISBN: 0881926736
Publication Date: 2005-02-08

 

Rain Gardens

 Juncus effusus; photo by Ivo Vermeulen

When it rains on our increasingly developed land, runoff and associated pollutants negatively impact our waterways. The native forests and other natural habitats that hold soil in place and filter storm water have been removed over the years, replaced by housing and communities. Impervious surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete walkways and compacted lawns, prevent water from percolating through the ground, unlike natural ecosystems, which allow rain to filter through soils, roots and plants in our forests, meadows and wetlands. A constructed rain garden can act as a living sponge to take up that first inch of rain that carries much of the pollutants washed from hardscapes of impervious surfaces. A rain garden is easy to make and can be a beautiful addition to the home landscape. It will hold and filter storm water on site and cut the volume of water that is lost as well as trap pollutants that otherwise make their way into our streams and rivers.

The Rain Garden and its Benefits:

A rain garden is a low-maintenance garden, approximately six inches below the surface, on level or slightly sloping ground. It can either dry quickly within hours of a rain event or be marsh-like, holding water for several days. Rain gardens are not to be confused with retention ponds that act as water storage basins without plants. A rain garden can be filled with native plants that tolerate both wet and dry conditions. This type of plant is generally deeply rooted so it can take flooding water but succeed in drier periods as well. Natives are beneficial, as these plants support our ecosystems. Because rain gardens don't need synthetic chemicals to survive, they will save money and make your yard a healthier place. Rain gardens can be beautifully planted with perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees.

What About Mosquitoes?
If properly designed, rain gardens do not attract mosquitoes. Mosquito eggs need 7 to 12 days in water to hatch, but rain gardens typically drain within 6 to 24 hours.

Rain Garden Tips:

Flow and Drainage
Soils with good drainage are a must. After a rainfall, check water flow from your house to see where the water easily percolates. As a test, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and fill the hole with water; it should drain within a day (24 hours).

Placement
Avoid creating a rain garden over a septic field (it could overwhelm the drainage system) or where water already collects, which probably indicates poor drainage. Do not disturb established trees. Locate the rain garden in the vicinity of the home's downspouts but at least 10 feet downslope from the foundation. If you have several downspouts, it may be possible to make one large rain garden, although you will need long extensions. Or you can create multiple rain gardens for multiple spouts.

Overflow
If your rain garden isn't large enough to handle the runoff from your downspout, allow it to overflow onto your lawn; however, don't let it overflow onto your neighbor's property.

Design and Construction
Consult a landscape professional for rain garden design, as field conditions influence storm water management.

Care of Plants
For the first two years, as the new plants are established and especially during summer droughts, you will need to water weekly and deeply. Weeding and mulching will be necessary until your garden is established.

 Plants for Wet/Dry Conditions:

BOTANICAL NAME COMMON NAME
Symphyotricum novi-belgii New York aster
Clethra alnifolia summersweet
Ilex glabra inkberry
Ilex verticillata winterberry holly
Iris versicolor blue flag iris
Juncus effusus soft rush
Lilium superbum Turk's cap lily
Lindera benzoin spicebush
Lobelia siphilitica great lobelia
Myrica pennsylvanicum bayberry
Onoclea sensibilis sensitive fern
Osmunda cinnamomea cinnamon fern
Sambucus canadensis elderberry
Vaccinium corymbosum highbush blueberry
Vernonia noveboracensis New York ironweed
Viburnum acerifolium mapleleaf viburnum
Viburnum dentatum arrowood viburnum

NYBG Garden Navigator

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  • NYBG Garden Navigator
    Use this resource to explore the NYBG grounds, including information about specific plants, bloom times, and garden features.
  • NYBG Garden Guides
    Guides from the Plant Information Office related to specific NYBG gardens, including their history, design, and current plantings.
 

Useful Websites

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