Rain Gardens: The Best Water Conservation

Not what you would have imagined, rain gardens are an excellent way to conserve water, and stave off water pollution…

When I first heard the term, I imagined a scene from a tropical jungle – lush plants, drenched in the rain, giving off aromatic humid vapors. The reality, well, is far more real.

So what is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a shallow depression made in a yard or lawn, planted with local flora that can tolerate being in shallow water. The purpose of this garden is to collect rainwater from downspouts, driveways, roofs and sidewalks for a short while – the soil microbes and plants filter out the pollutants and rubbish from the water and let it seep slowly back into the soil and create a sustainable landscape.

Why should you have a rain garden?

The reasons are manifold, all centering towards trying to make our planet cleaner, greener and healthier on the whole.

  1. A rain garden ensures that you are doing your little bit to conserve water – by letting the water seep back into the soil, you help in raising the underground water levels to a healthier degree. This also means that you are a good gardener and don’t need to use all that much water for your plants.
  2. Rain gardens mean you collect storm water and asphalt run-offs. Most of this water is contaminated with pollutants primarily from petroleum products – exhaust fumes, oil puddles and even tar contaminations make this water a big source of river and lake pollutants. By directing this water towards the soil, you help clean the water by microbial and plant action and stave off water pollution.
  3. Rain gardens are planted with local flora that thrives when it gets its feet wet! This means you will have a garden with hardy plants that don’t mind the weather, need little care and provide you with fresh air as well as happily buzzing insect life, such as butterflies and bees.

Where to make the rain garden?

A natural depression in your garden or yard is probably the best place for the rain garden to be, possibly close to where the water from a downspout, driveway, patio or even a sidewalk can flow in. Remember that to best protect the foundation of your house, rain gardens should be at least 10 feet away from it. Do not make rain gardens over or close to a septic system or where you tend to have natural groundwater overflow (where groundwater levels are already high). Also, the water in the rain garden should seep into the soil within 24 hours of the water collection – this will stop any mosquito menace in its tracks as mosquitoes cannot complete their breeding cycle in this time.

Are there any different types of rain gardens?

While a simple and basic rain garden, called a swale, consists of nothing more than a shallow depression lined with mulch and stones and planted with local, water-resistant plants, there are many advanced types of rain gardens, too, to combat increased pollution levels and run-offs.

      1.Planter box: Water first seeps into a box or tank located above ground, is filtered and then let into the garden before seeping into the garden.

  1. In-ground or Infiltration: Typically positioned in the ground to collect storm water from run-offs, the water is filtered and then allowed to flow into gardens to finally then seep underground.  
  2. Green roof: This is a roof garden where the roof of a building is covered with soil and vegetation – once the rain water seeps through the soil, it is collected in downpipes and then diverted to seep underground.
  3. Porous paving: Sidewalks and driveways can be paved with porous bricks that allow water to seep into the surrounding soil.
  4. Sub-Irrigation: Sometimes, the down spouts can be embedded into the soil to provide a sub-irrigation system that waters the soil below the surface, preferably after being filtered once. This means your plants will not be submerged after heavy downpours and there will be lesser evaporation of water on the surface.

We hope this aids you into being a more ecologically conscious gardener and step up your water conservation efforts, too. Do write in with your comments and feedback below – happy gardening.