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Connecticut Garden Journal: Rain Gardens

Rain garden
James Steakley
Wikimedia.org / Creative Commons

If this summer has taught me anything about current weather trends for gardening, I should expect more extreme, summer weather events in the future. It seems we bounced from hot and dry weather to humid conditions with torrential rains all summer long.

One way to help mitigate the problem of torrential rains is to build a rain garden. Rain gardens are sunken areas in your lawn, planted with perennials and shrubs that can take occasional flooding.

The concept is simple. Find, or construct, a low spot in your lawn where water can naturally drain during summer rain storms. You can also direct the water there with rain spouts or furrows in the lawn. By concentrating excess water in a rain garden and letting it naturally filter into the soil without running off, you'll avoid overwhelming municipal sewage systems. Also, you're keeping this precious water resource in your yard where it can help trees, shrubs and plants grow.

It's best to select native plants that can tolerate some flooding, and are hardy and suited to your sun conditions. Some good examples of natives for Connecticut include swamp milkweed, astilbe, summer sweet, silky dogwood, Joe Pye weed, winterberry holly, red chokeberry, aster and rudbeckia. There are so many plants options that you can still create a beautiful rain garden in your yard that has color from spring until fall. There are lots of resources available on-line, such as the University of Connecticut's Rain Garden Design Guide and App, to help you construct a rain garden. And Fall is a great time to tackle this project.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.