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DIY Edible Gardens

Kim, Rain gardens are great for adding beauty and native habitat. Rain barrels are great for adding additional irrigation to vegetables and raised beds. Since down spouts can go to different areas perhaps you can have both.

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J. Clothier Studios

I created our rain garden last summer. This picture is from December, 2015, when we received about 4" of rain in 24 hours. Even without plants, I was excited to see the rain garden function just as I designed it...all of this water was gone in 8 hours. To compensate for our less-than-ideal native soil (clay), I made the depression slightly larger than the calculations indicated, and slightly deeper. Also, there is a culvert running under the lawn path, connecting the kidney-shaped rain garden (in photo) with the swale-shaped part that runs along our new garage and to the street for overflow. I have not seen it overflow into the city storm sewer yet, and it handles all of the watershed from our 28x26 garage, the pool area and formal lawn (out of view to the left), and the west half of our property (out of view to the right).

I just took the next photo. Please excuse the garden mess (I'm a bit behind on my garden clean up this year). I have begun to add plants, both in and around the rain garden, as time and budget allows. So far, I have planted Spicebush (Linera benzoin), Sweetspire (Itea virginica), False Indigo (Baptisia australis), a couple of different Carex species, and I'm "auditioning" several different groundcovers to see which ones will thrive in the bottom. I have a "Black Lace" Sambucus (Elderberry) that I plan to move to the rain garden next spring (it will be much happier there than the east side of my house in dry part-shade), and I have a long list of plants yet to purchase, including a Black Gum tree, which I have wanted somewhere in my garden for a long time. Eventually, you will not see any mulch or bare earth. I am trying to stick with native plants as much as possible, or non-invasive non-natives that offer some benefit to the ecosystem (wildlife habitat, food, etc.). I'm having a lot of fun researching plants and watching this new garden slowly come to life!

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Susan Iskowich

We had a native plantings/rain garden installed in our backyard in the Chicagoland area approximately 8 years ago to deal with excessive water in our backyard. We had a terrible rainstorm literally a week after we had purchased the house and it looked like we had a swimming pool in our backyard. The particular area of our town where we live does not have any sewer drains in the alley and we are not allowed to have any sort of runoff go into the alleyway, so it was a horrible mess. The native/rain garden took care of the issues with the added bonus of attracting butterflies, bees and birds. I am hoping to next tackle a very small area in our front yard where plants do not seem to grow very well so of course the rain just makes this area a muddy mess. I am hoping to make it into more of a zen garden with a dry river rock "creek" to help with the water.

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