If polluted water from a downpour gushes onto your lawn and contaminates water supplies, a rain garden can prevent this mess.

It is a smart feature for any lawn that will offer a place for birds and other pollinators.

Adding this water-saving element from scratch may seem like a hard-to-achieve task. 

In actuality, it is quite easy and mainly requires soil testing, native plants, and a shovel.

Are you half-convinced about planting this eco-friendly option on your lawn?

Then, let’s explore how to build a rain garden using a few steps mentioned in this blog.

Learn More: The Ultimate Guide to First Cut Lawn in 2024

What is a Rain Garden?

A post explaining what is a rain garden

A rain garden is a type of landscape design that replaces a section of lawn to collect runoff from your driveway, roof, and grass. 

The thick, loose clay in this shallow depression naturally collects and filters runoff, keeping it out of the storm drain system and eventually out of our rivers. It can be used as an effective storm management tool.

It can be customized to fit individual tastes and blend well with any type of landscaping. It can occupy tiny or huge areas in your yard and make the most of them.

Benefits of Rain Gardens

An infographic explaining the benefits of a rain garden

Here are the benefits that will convince you to learn how to build a rain garden.

1. You Will Not Need to Mow 

Cutting the turf grass and mowing it using the correct technique can be a hassle. You can free yourself at least from mowing-related tasks with a rain garden. 

You need to prune and mulch around it as it can get clogged.

2. Water Conservation will Become Better 

It can be useful when people need to save water. It lessens their carbon footprint while saving them money and time. 

Water shortages are becoming more widespread in various parts of the world, making water conservation even more crucial.

3. Pollination is Encouraged

Pollination is important for keeping your lawn beautiful and healthy. Rain gardens in Ontario with native plants will entice birds, butterflies, and bees to visit your yard. 

4. Reduces the Risk of Flooding

If you look at “how does a rain garden work,” it follows a simple principle that deflects water away from your house’s foundation.

This avoids seepage and flooding in the basement. Rather than collecting at the base of your house, water will flow out of it via your pipes or swales.

5. Better Drainage 

Rain gardens are practical as they drain water from your grass more quickly, reducing slick spots and mess.

Top 5 Rain Garden Plants in Ontario

For your rain garden in Ontario, you can choose these plants:

1. Switchgrass

It is a hardy native grass that can withstand damp and dry weather. In addition to its great structure and erosion control, it has visually appealing seed heads.

2. Swamp Milkweed 

It is a perennial that thrives in damp conditions and yields fragrant clusters of pink flowers that draw butterflies. It attracts pollinators and grows well in damp environments.

3. Crimson Osier Dogwood

It is a hardy shrub with bright crimson stalks that add winter interest. It is great at preventing erosion and grows well in damp to moist environments, providing wildlife habitat.

4. Black-Eyed Susan

This plant has vivid yellow flowers from summer to fall that resemble daisies. Once grown, it can withstand drought and attracts many pollinators.

5. Ostrich Fern

It is a shaded fern well-known for its enormous, feathery fronds. It fits in well with rain garden settings and produces a lush, green backdrop.

How to Build a Rain Garden in Ontario 

A circular diagram listing how to build a rain garden in eight steps

After learning the advantages of a rain garden in Ontario, let’s go through the steps of how to build one:

1. Select a Location

A natural location for rain gardens would be a low area or ditch where water gathers when it rains. 

You can also reroute water runoff away from your house to divert water runoff for a rain garden. 

To prevent water from seeping into the foundation, pick a spot at least 10 feet from your house. The area needs to be in full sun to light shade. 

Keep the rain garden away from subterranean utility lines and septic tanks.

It can be 100–300 square feet in size. The size of the roof, the amount of runoff it produces, and the type of soil will all affect the size of your rain garden. 

2. Finalize a Rain Garden Design

When creating the design of your rain garden, you may want to consider the following:

  • Think about the landscaping that is currently in place around your house and the neighborhood.
  • Before you install it on your lawn, imagine how it would look throughout the year. Many varieties of shrubs will have eye-catching red limbs in the winter, and clumping grasses will maintain their shape.
  • Use a variety of plants, such as shrubs, flowers, and grasses, to generate variation in color, height, and texture.
  • Consider sight lines and setbacks if the garden is close to the road.

3. Start Digging Your Garden

Create a shallow basin that is 6 to 8 inches deep and slopes from the outside edges to the middle, where the deepest point is. 

To direct rainwater from the downspout or another water source into the basin, build a channel.

Build a berm with the excavated dirt to collect and retain water runoff. Add compost or topsoil to the basin’s soil to create a more plant-friendly growing environment. 

4. Add Soil to the Area

Rain gardens need a particular type of soil mix to function correctly. This soil mix, which is intended to facilitate rapid and easy water infiltration, often consists of a blend of sand and compost.

Remember that rain gardens should be sunken into the earth to allow rainwater to collect and filter into the soil. 

Add soil mix to your excavated area to a depth of about 60 centimeters, leaving about 25 centimeters for plants, mulch, and water pooling. 

Every 20 centimeters, gently compact the area with your feet to help the earth settle as you fill it in.

5. Install the Inlet Pipe

Dig a trench for the pipe to transfer water from one or more gutter downspouts to the rain garden. 

Although corrugated tubing is easier to work with, rigid tubes with smooth walls are the most durable; ensure you obtain one without holes. Stretch the piping a foot or so into the rain garden basin.

Use stones to create a barrier beneath the area to stop erosion. In addition, you can cover and conceal the pipe with stones to prevent corrugated tubing from curling.

After fully installing the plumbing, use the excavated soil for the trench.

6. Fill the Basin 

As mentioned above, soil for the rain garden should be added to the excavated area, leaving only the top 6 to 12 inches. 

Gently slope the sides. Replace any clay soil you dug up with 40% compost and 60% screened sand. Fill a dry well with cleaned, round stones ranging in diameter from 1½ to 2 inches.

The middle of the rain garden in Ontario is best for plants that do best in damp conditions since it retains moisture longer after a storm.

Plants adapted to dry circumstances should be placed on the edges, while those that can withstand standing water should be placed on the sloping sides.

7. Place the Plants

It’s essential to arrange every plant in the garden before taking them out of their pots to ensure you like the arrangement. You can now begin planting.

As the plant slides out of the container, turn the container upside down, tap the bottom of the pot hard, and grab the root ball. Using your hands, loosen the roots.

Don’t bury the newly planted plant too deeply in the ground. The depth needs to match the container’s depth. 

Refrain from overcrowding your garden by spacing plants too widely; instead, consider their mature size. 

Water thoroughly and firmly pack the dirt around the base. Plants need to be watered every few days until they become established, which will take around four weeks. 

Plants don’t require frequent watering once established, except for dry spells.

8. Cover the Plants with Mulch

After planting, add a 3-inch layer of mulch to the inside of the rain garden to keep the soil damp and stop weeds from growing.

Even drought-tolerant plants need extra watering during dry seasons until they become established in a rain garden. Pruning and removing weeds keep the rain garden looking its best.

Check the depth of the mulch every year and add more as needed. Fertilizers are unnecessary for rain gardens because compost is already included in the soil mixture. 


Can I set up a rain garden in a small yard?

Yes, you can scale rain gardens to accommodate any yard of any size. Small-scale rain gardens can greatly influence local water quality improvement and stormwater runoff management.

What is the price of installing a rain garden?

The size, level of design complexity, and choice of plants all affect the price. The major costs of creating a DIY rain garden are plants, mulch, and soil amendments (Topsoil, water-absorbing compost, etc.).

Where should my rain garden be located?

To prevent water from leaking into your foundation, place your rain garden at least 10 feet away from your house. It should not be placed where there is standing water but rather in a low-lying location where water naturally flows. 

In Conclusion

If your lawn looks messy and swamped with puddles after rain, you need to build a rain garden.

It can improve the drainage in your lawn and prevent your home from water damage.

After learning how to build a rain garden, you can create a diverse habitat for birds and other pollinators and reduce landscape maintenance.

To make it work, you must choose the right plants for the rain garden in Ontario, considering factors like soil, moisture, and light.

These things can be difficult to manage if you have a busy schedule. Fortunately, you can contact Falcons Landscaping for help.