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An informative guide to rain gardens
Published: 3/19/2021
A Rain Garden is constructed to direct rain runoff from hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways and lawns. To learn more about Rain Gardens, check out this “Informative Guide to Rain Gardens.” The City partnered with MSU Tollgate Extension Center to create a Demonstration Rain Garden to set an example for someone interested in creating their own. The garden was awarded the Michigan Plaque by Keep Michigan Beautiful as a leader in beautifying Michigan.

Novi’s Award-Winning Demonstration Rain Garden

In a unique partnership, Michigan State University Tollgate Extension Center and the City of Novi created a Demonstration Rain Garden. The purpose of the Demonstration Rain Garden is to set an example for other businesses, homeowners and communities who may be interested in creating one of their own. Novi’s Demonstration Rain Garden was awarded the Michigan Plaque by Keep Michigan Beautiful as a leader in beautifying Michigan.

A Rain Garden can…
  • Control runoff
  • Keep pollution form washing into local watersheds
  • Conserve water
  • Improve water quality
  • Remove standing water in yards
  • Reduce mosquito breeding
  • Increase beneficial insects and animals that eliminate pest insects
  • Prevent flash flooding
  • Create habitat for wildlife
  • Reduce maintenance costs over a lawn
  • Enhance the beauty of an area
How to create a Rain Garden
  • Step 1: Size and Locate your Rain Garden: The surface area of your rain garden should be between 20% and 30% of the roof area that will drain into the rain garden. Locate the garden at least 10 feet away from the house (to prevent soggy basements), and maintain a minimum 1% slope from the lawn down to the raingarden (you can also create a shallow ditch to ensure the water flows from roof to the garden, or use a downspout extension to direct the flow into the garden). Lay out the boundary of the garden with a rope or flexible hose.
  • Step 2: Dig the Rain Garden: To enable the rain garden to hold several inches of water during a storm, you’ll have to dig a hole 3-4 inches deep across the entire surface of the garden. If the soil lacks organic material, you can improve it by digging the hole 5-6 inches deep, and adding 2-3 inches of compost or other organic material. Create a berm on the lower side of the garden using the diggings, or use a downspout extension or shallow ditch to direct the water into the garden. Make sure the bottom is level. Next, test how the garden will hold water during a storm by letting water flow into the rain garden from a hose placed at the downspout. Based on this test, make any necessary adjustments
  • Step 3: Add Plants to the Rain Garden: Choose drought-tolerant plants that won’t require much watering, but make sure they can withstand wet soils for up to 24 hours. Also take into account how much sun your garden receives. It’s often helpful to draw out a planting plan before you start, and mark planting areas within the garden with string. After planting, weeding and watering maybe required until the plants become more established. You may also need to periodically divide some of the plants to let others grow.
Visit the following links for more information about Rain Gardens and tips for creating your own: