Helenium in rain garden

Rain Garden Basics

Whether you’re interested in alleviating erosion in your yard or improving water quality in lakes and rivers, rain gardens are a worthy endeavor.  Not only utilitarian, rain gardens add interest and beauty to your landscape and make a great conversation piece.

If you’re curious about rain gardens but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered! Read on for the inside scoop on the brand new Knecht’s rain garden and some resources to help you make your very own. Bonus: now is a great time to plant! 

The Basics  of Rain Gardens

A rain garden is basically a bowl in a low spot that catches water and lets it soak into the earth rather than run off even further. The soil and roots collect and filter polluted water that would otherwise go into lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Rain gardens can also help reduce soil erosion and washouts.

Low spots that experience large amounts of runoff from downspouts and hard surfaces are excellent candidates for rain gardens. Wherever you decide to put your rain garden, the drainage should be good enough that the bowl drains within a day or two. The plants that sit in the bottom of the bowl should be able to tolerate high moisture levels and occasional standing water.

The University of Minnesota has an excellent guide on the benefits of rain gardens. The guide includes pointers on installation, size, and testing for appropriate drainage. They also have a helpful list of plants that are suited to each zone of the rain garden.

Our Rain Garden

We’re jumping on the bandwagon! Knecht’s just installed a rain garden in front of our greenhouses in an area that needed some runoff control. Why not turn a practical need into a beautiful garden? 

The moisture lovers for the low spots:

Iceberg Alley Willow rain garden
“Iceberg Alley” Sageleaf Willow (Salix candida ‘Jefberg’)

Iceberg Alley Willow provides great leaf texture and color and thrives in high moisture.

Lobelia siphilitica in rain garden
Lobelia siphilitica

Blue Lobelia brings in the bumblebees and hummingbirds and is a big fan of moist areas.

Lobelia cardinalis
Lobelia cardinalis

Native cardinal flower is a hummingbird magnet and loves moisture.

Obedient plant in rain garden
Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana ‘Vivid’)

Obedient plant is a pollinator favorite and loves moist areas. The flowers stay in place if you move them!

Chocolate Eupatorium
Chocolate Joe-Pye (Eupatorium rugosum)

Chocolate Joe-Pye loves moist soil and provides interesting leaf color and texture and white blooms in late summer.

The dryer zones of the rain garden:

Asclepias tuberosa in rain garden
Butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly flower hosts monarch caterpillars and does well in the upper zones of the rain garden. Bright orange flowers and interesting seed pods.

Helenium in rain garden
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Sneezeweed does well in medium moisture and brings in the pollinators with its late season blooms. 

Panicum Cheyenne Sky in rain garden
Panicum virgatum ‘Cheyenne Sky’ 

Panicum ‘Cheyenne Sky’ is a beautiful switch grass with excellent fall color. Birds love the snackable seeds.

Follow along with us as we watch our rain garden grow! Not signed up for our newsletter? Sign up here for weekly updates on specials and sales, new arrivals, and helpful blogs.