UNL publications can help homeowners design and install a rain garden in their landscape

UNL publications can help homeowners design and install a rain garden in their landscape

With time on your hands this winter you can dream about creating a beautiful and functional rain garden in your landscape this coming spring. A rain garden helps conserve water, reduce runoff pollution, and adds an aesthetic landscape feature to your home. You can do more than dream, you can use UNL Extension publication resources to design and install your rain garden.

rain garden install image
Rain garden installed to capture roof runoff and provide an aesthetic landscape feature. Photo by T. Franti

A rain garden collects water from your roof through a downspout and holds it in a shallow depression like a bathtub, until it soaks into the ground within 48 hours. The garden is planted with native and adapted perennial plants and small shrubs that can thrive in wet soil, attract pollinators, and provide year-round color in your yard. A rain garden is a do-it-yourself home project that all in the family can enjoy. Establishing a rain garden requires you to: 1) plan the garden location and layout; 2) select plants and make a plant layout plan; 3) work with a shovel to construct the garden; and, 4) water, mulch, and weed to establish new plants. Installing a garden in spring will give the plants a chance to grow strong over the summer. If you’re not the handy type, local nurseries or landscapers can provide installation services.

UNL Extension offers a free online, interactive guide, EC 1262 Rain Garden Design, https://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec1262.pdf which includes interactive graphics, videos, and an active calculation worksheet (accessible after downloading the guide in a .pdf format), and complete instructions for planning the installation of your rain garden. If you are not the online, interactive type, UNL Extension sells a set of three NebGuides available on UNL Marketplace https://marketplace.unl.edu/extension/ for $1.50, Search key words: rain garden.

These NebGuides cover rain garden design, installation, including all the tools and layout planning you will need, and what plants to select for the garden. These NebGuides are Rain Garden Design for Homeowners (G1758), Plant Selection for Rain Gardens in Nebraska (G1759), and Installing Rain Gardens in Your Yard (G1760). Several nurseries around Nebraska have been providing rain garden appropriate plants, so should have good suggestions for your location. A comprehensive design guide that features much on planting design and selection is also available for purchase, Nebraska Bioretention and Rain Garden Plants Guide (EC 1261).  Several videos and segments on the Backyard Farmer YouTube channel feature the Backyard Farmer Garden on UNL’s East Campus, including information on specific plants.

Additional information can be found on this website by searching for rain gardens, and from your Local County Extension Office.

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