Q. What is a rain garden?
A. A rain garden is a natural or constructed depression intended to mitigate storm water. The plantings in a rain garden allow water to percolate into the soil, reducing runoff into storm sewers, reducing erosion, and protecting ground water quality. In addition to being attractive, a rain garden generally requires less maintenance than a lawn and provides valuable habitat for wildlife.
Considerations when planning a rain garden include available sun, size of desired garden and lot, underground utilities, and plant variety. Keep in mind that smaller gardens have less room for variety. Also, because water only stands temporarily, rain gardens are not breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
It's best to install rain gardens in full sun rather than under large trees. Select native plant species that can tolerate periods of wetness as well as dry periods. Installing plants rather than seeding is also recommended. Plants suitable for rain gardens include red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), New England aster (Aster novae-angliae), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).