Eric V's Rain Garden

An Illinois native rain garden connected to a pond overflow


In the summer of 2018, inspired by what others were doing, especially @JBtheExplorer in this thread I decided that I too wanted a rain garden. I've grown to love my native plants and the idea of having a large patch of them which might not grow elsewhere in my yard or pond was really attractive.

I had one logical place for it which was at the trough near the back of my property line. My back yard gradually slopes into this area and the retaining berm around the detention pond behind my property slopes pretty steeply into it. The whole area has a slight left to right slope which empties into a storm drain, so I figured if I could intercept some of that water, even better.

Long ago, the previous owners had raised beds back in this area.

So the plan was to drain the back half of my house and my pond overflow into the rain garden. I figured the pond overflow would give the garden a nice source of nutrients.

You can see the showcase for my pond here:

Planning and Construction

In planning I relied heavily on online resources: Wisconsin DNR manual is a great resource for the construction of rain garden. Where to site it, how deep to make it based on your soil type, etc.

For me I figured I had about 700 sq. ft. of roof to drain and about 150 sq. ft. of pond surface, so about 850 total. With my clay soil and my lawn gradient of 5.5%, this meant a 5-7" deep rain garden with a surface area of 280 sq. ft. That's more space than I really had, so I figured I would just make it as big as I could in the area and if it overflowed occasionally, so be it.

For plants, I came across a fall sale of some Black Chokeberry shrubs which can even tolerate standing water, so I got those in the fall and planted them in the sod 4" or so below the initial ground line since I figured that where the rain garden was going to end up.

Major construction and planting would have to wait until the spring when kits from a local supplier were available. I wanted two of these kits 50 plant rain garden kit which would at least give me a start. I'm a patient and cheap gardener, so if it takes several years for things to fill in, that's fine.
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