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Lots of Spring Showers Bring Rain Garden Flowers

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Posted in Bergen County Landscape Design Ideas

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Installing a rain garden on your property is an excellent way to reduce damaging runoff and improve the water quality of nearby bodies of water in your community. By allowing the ground to soak up storm water, a rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff to be collected from impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, patio and walkways through the downspout.  Normally, storm water runoff drains down a street and picks up various types of debris including fertilizer and garbage.  Serving as the end point of drainage, a rain garden collects water runoff and puts it back into the earth.  Further, through the process of transpiration, rain garden plants return water vapor to the atmosphere and works rain or shine to improve the environment.
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When designing your rain garden, I recommend taking a walk around the space during a rainstorm to determine where puddles and runoff form and to identify poor areas of drainage.  Important tip when choosing a location: a rain garden should be no closer than 30 feet from a building with a basement and no less than 10 feet without one.  Also, the depth of your rain garden is very important.  A garden more than 8" deep might cause the water to "pond" and anything less than 4" could be too shallow and might become a tripping hazard. Take the time to insure that the bottom of your rain garden is level so runoff water drains evenly.

The success of your garden will depend on selecting the right types of plants.  Rain gardens are ideally planted with native plants that are already adapted to the soil, precipitation, and climate. Native plants are less prone to initial shock when planted, and almost never need to be fertilized.  A wide variety of plants are available to fit your personal taste and aesthetic but remember to consider the conditions of your location when planting. Plants that thrive in full sun, for example, require six or more hours of direct sunlight and partial shade plants require four to six, while shade plants can survive less than four hours of direct sunlight.

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Eupitorium sp. 'Joe Pie Weed'   Lobelia cardinalis 'Cardinal Flower'  Lilium superbum 'Turks Cap Lily'

 

Choose plants that have various heights, leaf color and shape and that bloom in a wide array of colors throughout the seasons. Plants such as Eupitorium sp. (Joe pye weed) and Lobelia cardinalis  (Cardinal Flower) are two of my favorites and can be a great addition to any garden.  Also, keep in mind that many plants provide berries for birds and transform into great architectural structure in the fall and winter seasons. And don't forget your rain jacket! Happy Rain Gardening.

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Geranium maculatum 'Wild Geranium'

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