How to Build a Beautiful Rain Garden

3 min read

rain garden plan

With all of the beautiful rain we have been getting, have you ever considered building yourself a rain garden?

A rain garden is a garden which takes advantage of rainfall and storm water runoff in its design and plant selection.

Usually, it is a small garden which is designed to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, that are found in storm water runoff.

This diagram illustrates how a rain garden is constructed and how much sense it makes to have them in your yard to take advantage of the rain water run off (especially as the price of water is absolutely ridiculous!). There are a wide range of types of rain gardens including:

  • Down pipe diversion rain gardens
  • Infiltrations rain gardens
  • In ground rain gardens
  • Planter box rain gardens
  • Porous paving rain gardens
  • Tank diversion rain gardens
  • Vegetable rain gardens


Step 1: Build Your Rain Garden

Start by either constructing your planter box or excavating your trench, depending on the type of rain garden you have decided to build. If you are building an in ground style rain garden (including in ground and infiltration rain garden or swale), dig the area with a gentle slope away from the house.

Determine if your rain garden needs to be lined with a PVC liner or if a perforated pipe at the bottom of your rain garden is required.

Ensure an overflow pipe is installed to drain excess water during heavy rainfall. Next, add your sandy soil layers one layer at a time. Attach a flow spreader to the end of your down pipe or rainwater tank overflow to evenly distribute water flow into your garden to limit erosion. At this point your rain garden is almost complete.

Step 2: Rain Garden Planting
Be creative with your rain garden design, using a variety of rain garden plants evenly spaced throughout the garden. Mulch your rain garden with gravel to keep the moisture in.

Avoid using bark or straw mulch as it will float and wash back into the storm water
system. A wide range of plants are suitable for rain gardens. Your local nursery can guide you on what plants are suitable for your area.

When choosing plants for your rain garden make sure that they are able to tolerate heavy rainfall as well as long dry periods. Native plants are usually more drought resistant and easier to maintain than introduced species.

Tips For A Healthy Rain Garden
Rain gardens are easy to maintain, especially when planted with native Australian plants. They don't need to be watered, mowed or fertilized. Follow these simple tips to make sure your rain garden functions well.

  1. Cover your rain garden with gravel mulch to retain moisture.
  2. Weed your rain garden until the plants have matured.
  3. Evenly distribute water flow into your rain garden to limit erosion from heavy rainfall. Strategically placed rocks may help with this.
  4. Inspect your rain garden - replace plants and repair erosion in your rain garden when necessary.
  5. Don't drive over or squash your rain garden as this will reduce its ability to work effectively.


If it doesn't rain, water your rain garden until your plants have established in compliance with your local water restrictions. And if you have any questions about the materials you need to put your rain garden together, give us a call on 5453 7100 for advice.



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