A rain garden can be a wonderful way to take advantage of the benefits of living in a wet climate. The point of the garden is to make use of stormwater so it isn't wasted as runoff. This means you need soil that absorbs and holds onto moisture well as well as plants that thrive in moist conditions. The following are some key features to consider for your rain garden.

Rain collection system

A rain barrel or water cistern is commonly found in a rain garden. This is because few climates are rainy year round, so you will need a way to provide the necessary moisture for the garden during the dry season. You can purchase or make an above ground, gravity fed rain barrel, or you can opt for an underground cistern if you don't want the collection system visible. Both options are filled via your gutter system from the rainwater that falls on your roof. An open barrel system is also often used in conjunction with a beautiful copper rain chain. The rain trickles from the gutter and through the chain, where it makes a lovely noise and adds to the atmosphere of the garden. For more information, contact local professionals like Monarch Rain Chains.


Many home rain gardens are terraced. This is because a terrace allows moisture to trickle and drain slowly into the lower levels, which prevents erosion. Terraces can be made of wood, stone, concrete, or brick retaining walls. A terrace works much better than a slope, since slopes tend to erode and eventually collapse when subjected to the consistently wet conditions present in most rain gardens.

Native plants

Plants that have evolved to thrive in the natural rain cycles of your climate are a must. In general, these will be a combination of native grasses, flowers, and shrubs that can thrive in both wet seasons and seasonal dry periods. Avoid non-native plants that will need additional water, since the point of the rain garden is to avoid using any water that doesn't come from natural rainfall. Your county extension office or a local nursery can help you find the right plants.

Overflow options

Sometimes it will rain more than your garden or collection system can handle. This is where a decorative yet functional overflow system comes in handy. Dry creek beds or retention pools lined in attractive rocks are most common. These are designed to be dry for most of the year, but there are usually perforated drainage pipes installed below them to help take away excess water in the event of heavy rainfall.

A rain garden is an excellent method for growing a native plant garden that doesn't require extra irrigation.