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smokensqueal
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Rain Gardens

Does anyone have any experience with rain gardens? I have two situations that I'm needing a solution for and I was wanting to get a little help deciding what to do.

One of my main question is how close is to close to put a rain garden to a house with a basement? I would hate to put one in and have problems with a wet basement because of it.

dinker
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sorry ive never done a rain garden.
Im not sure if this will help when my daughter was looking to buy a house she had an inspector come in and look for problems.
He said down spout should be a min of 2'ft away from the house the farther the better less chance of a wet basement and damage to the fondation

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applestar
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I've been researching on this as well - BTW IMHO, I think the best place for this thread is in Permaculture

This won't have everything you need since you don't live in NJ but New Jersey Native Plant Society website https://www.npsnj.org/ has a Rain Garden Manual pdf file to download.

According to this manual, the rain garden should be located at least 30 feet from a building w/ basement, and at least 10 feet w/o.

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smokensqueal
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Thanks I'll have to take a look at that. I found on this site [url]https://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Rain-Garden[/url] That is should be no closer then 10 feet. 30 is a fairly good distance I don't see how that could be useful in most subdivisions. But it might work for me.

Right now I'm trying to research my water table. I've been told it's super high in our area (not like Florida but high for the midwest) so I don't know if it would actually work. But I'm thinking since a lot of us have basements it can't be that high of a water table.

My next challenge would be to fine native plants that can handle super wet conditions but also can survive our very hot and dry summers.

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Odd that none of those sites mentioned the use of a liner. One of the big boo boos made is that many rain gardens won't hold water if they're not in heavy clay. Lots of people end up losing their plants or end up completely digging everything out to be able to install a liner then planting everything back again.

I used regular old Firestone roofing liner in a 60 mil thickness.

As far as proximity to the foundation of a home, I've seen them right up tight to the foundation with soil actually excavated to accommodate them.

Instead of being fed by a gutter, I have one that is fed by the ejector pump to one of our sump pumps. Works just as well.

Native plants for MO should be easier than you think. It will more be a matter of having to trim down the list of what's available.

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smokensqueal
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Lorax I think your talking about a water garden [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_garden[/url] and not a rain garden [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_garden[/url] . I'm not wanting to keep water I'm wanting it to seep down and go away. I'm wanting to do this in a low spot between me and my neighbor. My other real option would be to bring loads of dirt in to give it some slop and that's way to costly. BUT you did bring up a good point about feeding a water garden with sump pump water. That's another project I might start working on maybe next year. We kind of have a water garden already. Our area has absolutly no grade to it so when our ditches get water in them it never flows out. And with a sump pump as you may already know runs quite a bit unless we get a really long dry spell. Do you have a pic of your water garden?

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smokensqueal
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Oh I forgot to mention that I'm not actually in MO I live across the river in Il. How would I go about finding native plants?

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Nope, not talking about a water garden although I have those here too. I was losing too much water to seepage in my rain garden. So much so that the area couldn't sustain the plants I had selected for that area. I had to dig up and start over and I did have slope and I did have an earthen berm on the low end. To use a liner or not to use a liner depends on many factors of which soil characteristics would be only one. End up with a droughty year on your hands like some we've had in the past and you risk standing over your rain garden with a hose or losing your plants. And, if one learns that their liner is retaining too much water, one can poke a few drainage holes in it with a pitch fork which is what I ultimately did on the low end. if this interests you, start going around to construction sites and asking for any roofing liner leftovers. There's absolutely nothing wrong with overlapping leftover strips to create a liner as the plants that would be found in a rain garden are different than those that would be found in a water garden or combo. Seepage is a-ok in rain gardens and fens. Not necessarily so in bog or water gardens where the liner needs to come all the way up to above grade.

We have another area that we are going to create that is going to be fed by a downspout. So far all we have done is trenched and installed 4" pvc piping to the area though. What was designed should be able to "feed' a bog/rain garden that is approximately 3800 gallons. Right now, the water is just discharging into the area. Working up to tackling that project but need to remove a boatload of invsives from the area before we could even begin considering excavation. Getting there, one of these years.

If it is your intent to create your rain garden in that area that is not draining between you and your neighbor, you should be fine without a liner.

Yes, I could share photos. If you private message me your e-mail address I will take a few photos and forward them to you. This is a large rain garden though, probably in the league of 10,000 gallons being fed by one sump pump discharge as well as another downspout. It's looking rather drab right now due to the season. I'm too lazy to upload to a photo hosting service to be able to post photos here. Besides which, I keep forgetting the password.

First, you need to determine which native plants you want. There are literally thousands that would work for what you want to do. I'd start with the USDA's site-
https://plants.usda.gov/
If you look over to the right where it says "I Want To...", click on the area for learning about wetlands plants for your region.

You will now be in an area that will enable you to enter search criteria. Here's what I'd like you to consider selecting from the drop down menus-
Duration- Perennial
Growth Habits- All
Native Status- L48 Native
State Distribution- Illinois
National Wetland Indicator Status- FACW
Regional Wetland- North Central
Regional Wetland Indicator- FACW

The rest of the categories can be left as default.

Now go to the bottom and click the radio button to sort by scientific name then click to display results. Voila! Isn't that cool? These are the wetland species that will work best for you in that particular area without a liner.

You can click on each entry to look at any images to get a feel for what you personally like the looks of. After you have a basic idea of what your individual tastes are, then you can begin to look for those plants and add a few that aren't on that list that would appear on the OBL searches. One that is coming to mind for me would be Iris versicolor which should do just fine in the type of environment you will be creating-
https://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=IRVE2

One last comment, you really need to include some grasses, sedges, and rushes. Some people go heavy on grasses, sedges, and rushes like me while others go light but you need something to support the showier plants as well as to create a more natural look.

Please download this guide-
https://www.theconservationfoundation.org/images/stories/pdf/ch/rgmanual.pdf

para_chan
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I apologize for stealing the topic a little, but what is a sump pump? I hear about them all the time, but the best I can come up with is a pump that drains your basement?

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smokensqueal
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HOLEY COW! :D Thanks Lorax that's a lot more information then what I expected. I can't thank you enough. This is great!

para_chan: a sump pump (at least in my area) is typically used in basements. What happens when the ground it saturated or the water table is to high you don't want water running into your basement. The sump pump it's self is located in a hole. Underneath a basement is rock and seep tile of some sort all leading to the sump pump. So instead of water in the ground sitting right up against your basement walls and eventually seeping in it hits the rock or seep tile and flows to the sump pump so it can be removed.

I've never had it tested but usually the water coming from the sump pump is very clean since it's been filtered from the ground above. So it is very good water to use for things like a water garden or I've though about pumping it into a rain barrel to use it for watering plants since I don't have a water garden at this time.

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smokensqueal
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Well thanks to the link that Lorax provided I found a great mapping thing that has a soil Survey from the usda. I now know that I have Silt Loam in the first 15 inches and silt loam clay below that. Just so you all know what I have to deal with here I'll post some of the land specs...

Slope: 0-2 percent
depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches (I don't know what that means)
Drainage class: Poorly drained
Depth to water table: about 0-12 inches (this is what I don't get. We all have basements in the area and no body complains of them being wet. and I guess I can't do this rain garden looks like it's going to be more of a water garden. )
Frequency of flooding: None (GOOD)
Frequency of ponding: Frequent
Available water capacity: High about 10.6 inches (not sure what that means I guess it can hold 10.6 inches of rain?)

TheLorax
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I've though about pumping it into a rain barrel to use it for watering plants
Excellent idea. The ppm is going to be very low on water from a sump pump. You can also use water from dehumidifiers.

slope- you have none ;)
Drainage class- maybe not poor for your particular site
Depth to restrictive feature- they're talking about bedrock here
Depth to water table- should actually be measured for your specific site
Frequency of flooding- self explanatory barring 100 year and 500 year floods
Frequency of ponding- another that is self explanatory
Available water capacity- another one that should be site specific

Some of that data helps determine areas in need of protection but there are other uses too.
I now know that I have Silt Loam in the first 15 inches and silt loam clay below that.
Your property has been "improved" because of the house that now exists on it. The above may have been what was there but that doesn't mean it's still there.

Go with what your little voice tells you to do when constructing your rain garden. You have good sound instincts and you're familiar with the basics. Fly with them. The only expert on that property is you. So what if you make a few mistakes here and there. We all do. Wanna dig a hole and only partially line it with roofing liner, go for it. Wanna go without roofing liner entirely, go for it. Unless you want to pay thousands of dollars getting professionals out there, let your little voice guide you.

The only true advice I can give you is to excavate deeper than what you think you need. Native plants generally have deep root systems. As a rule, I'm now going down 3' unless it's for a bog.

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applestar
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Tired as I was after an all day planting marathon (2 Winterberry shrubs, 1 Japanese apricot tree, and 2 apple trees), I was laying on the hammock as the sun set and the dusk deepened, thinking about all the Rain Garden info (yes, I checked when I took a break during the day :wink: ) and picturing myself digging all that dirt at some point. Just not today. :roll:

TheLorax
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Come on now applestar, if smokensqueal is going for it... you can too! Get your buns out of that hammock and get your shovel! You don't need to start out big. My first little rain garden was something like 35 gallons. It's still here, I love it.

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Smokensqueal--good fir yew! Got in a little late here, but I'm a big fan of rain gardens. Turns out I'd put in two before I knew what they were! If you poke around the University of Wisconsin--Madison, they have extensive research into rain gardens, retrofitting entire 'hoods, commercial properties, etc., in and around Madison, WI. Their resident expert came to MI to talk to us 'ganders about rain gardens, which is where I learned about them. Using native plants (which have the taproots to filter the water) and correct grading are the two biggies. My soil is fast draining, but most of what I have there can stand a little drought, anyway. The shade rain garden uses the runoff from one downspout (actually the overflow from the rain barrel), plus some supplemental H2O as needed. The shade one is closest to the house and starts about 6' from the foundation, but the spout for the overflow dumps out more like 12' from the foundation. That particular roof edge is not guttered, but the roof line acts like gutters in directing the water flow in two directions, both of which are captured first by rain barrels. Most of the work is done in installing the rain garden, it pretty much takes care of itself afterwards. If you go to your state's DNR or DEQ site you should find a list of native and banned plants for reference. Congrats!
Happy Gardening,
Wing

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smokensqueal
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Isn't silt loam fairly good soil? I'm fairly confident that this survey is very accurate. It said it was done in 96. The subdivision I'm in was started back in 78 or so. I built on an empty lot 2 years ago and I remember seeing the different layers of dirt when digging the basement. That site also have a lot more detail about % organic mater, % sand, % clay and all seem fairly close. The only thing that really seamed off on that survey was the water table. We dug about 9 ft deep when we put in our basement and it was in spring and never had a problem with water. But what concerns me is that the ditch on the other side of our house never drains. After a rain it will flow all the way down to about 6 inches. After that it will sit there for weeks breading mosquitos. I don't think it ever seeps into the ground but more less evaporates. :x

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Silty loam sounds good, but unstable as soil goes, not much structure. I'd like to know just what the other percentages are, would give me a better idea of your soil.
You'll have to do a fair amount of weeding the first year or so until the plants get established and reach their mature size. Pay attention to that mature size and space accordingly; for how big they're gonna get, not the size they are now. It may look funny for a while, but trust me, you don't want to be moving mature clumps of plants around after the fact.
Happy Gardening,
Wing

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Now that I'm eye-balling the natural pond/pool idea, I've decided to go ahead and dig a rain garden in the area I'd designated as my Pond-to-be. I'm not going to dig the whole area, but start with a narrow swale garden and gradually enlarge as I collect additional plant material. It's all clay there and judging by the little bog swale, there'll be no problem holding moisture. This way, I'l have a place to plant the Eupatorium coelestinium and Rhexia that I had to oust in order to shoe-horn the Cephalanthus occidentalis by the bog swale. :roll:

wingdesigner
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Sounds like a wise plan to me. Wish I'd take that advice sometimes... :roll:
Happy Gardening,
Wing

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smokensqueal
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Wingdesigner, I have a pdf of my soil properties if you want it just PM me. other wise here is a quick run down of that it has in it. I'm have a mix of two different types of soil but they are both very close to being the same. They are called Virden and Frostburg. In the first 15 inches it consists of 1-7 % sand, 66-78 % silt, 20-27% clay. It also has a 3-6% of organic matter. The report has more detail and other thing in it but I thought these would be more of what you were looking for.

I did find a guy in the St. Louis area who specializes in rain gardens. https://saintlouisraingardens.com/index.html I'm hoping he could help with some of my questions.

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smokensqueal
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:lol: Well I talked to that guy and he didn't seem to want to take the time and even talk much about it. So I'm thinking of just doing seep tile because of all the unknowns. Thanks for everyone's input.

wingdesigner
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Try this site: https://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/rg/. Roger Bannerman was the guest lecturer on rain gardens. However, he went beyond a single homeowner to talking about how to retrofit established neighbourhoods, installing biofiltration systems in catch basins, new construction, etc. This was several years ago (you might mention Farmington Hills, MI) but he seemed approachable then. This site has many pdf docs you can download, plus links to other sites. With the low organic matter in your soil, plus the unstable base; you'll want to put in a lot of compost at a lower level to improve drainage. The figs you gave me were what I was after--I'm probably not able to interpret anything more technical. Happy browsing!

Oh, yeah, you may have to install drain tiles and call it a day, but that's not to say you still can't plant a rain garden on top of that. Prairie Garden Nurseries also have a great staff and (plant/seed) packages for all kinds of drain problems, septic fields, etc. They are pretty good at taking your kind of soil and locale, and probably have a tried-and-true solution or can advise you. I've referred them several times in the past and they've proven helpful and courteous.
Happy Gardening,
Wing

wingdesigner
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OK, here's another good site: https://uwarboretum.org/eps/research_act_classroom/rain_garden_curriculum/Resources_and_Vocabulary/Rain_Garden_Resources.pdf
it has links to several different sites, some perhaps closer to you, some with detailed steps to installing a rain garden, etc.
Aannndd, one more: https://www.news.wisc.edu/13823 That last one is an article published in the college newsletter last year. Very interesting, it purports that the type of construction matters more than the plants inside. In a nutshell, their very preliminary study seems to point to the fact that there is a perimeter berm to contain the water helps the water to percolate rather than what type of plants the garden contains.

Interesting... :roll: One more:
https://clean-water.uwex.edu/pubs/pdf/gardens.pdf

this is a brochure I picked up from that lecture. That's it. I think. Maybe. :lol:
Happy Gardening,
Wing

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Rain Garden plants

Most bog plants or marginals are great for rain gardens. Taros, bog lilies, spider lilies, cannas, louisiana iris, swamp milkweed. Seach for bog plants though some websites act as if they need to be planted in water just moist soil is plenty. Also Society garlic is a fantastic rain garden bloomer.

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This is a pretty long thread but back on the first page, smokensqueal said he wanted native plants. Sometimes it's hard to go all the way back to read every post. At least I find it hard at times.

Speaking of this being a long thread...
smokensqueal- how are you doing on your plant picks? Are you gearing up for next year?

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smokensqueal
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It's going. Haven't made any final decisions yet. Still looking for some native grasses to mix in and where I'll be able to purchase them all.

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