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Master Rain Gardener - Front Yard Rain Garden

Isaac Salomon
3 months ago
last modified: 3 months ago

I hope to build a rain garden in the front yard, specifically in a depression in the landscape between a living red maple and the stump of a giant silver maple. The topsoil is very depleted due to erosion and the soil tends toward clay (percolation rate on the order of one day). Since I live on a hilly cul-de-sac, there is a lot of stormwater runoff from roofs and pavement that could potentially be redirected into the bed. Right now I have a little pawpaw tree in the area which I will incorporate into the completed rain garden (see the green plastic plant cage). These photos were taken mid-afternoon, showing the sun/shade dynamic.

Here is the base drawing of the dimensions of the yard, and a potential kidney bean shaped rain garden in red. I am leaning towards directing the far downspout (purple dot, left) into the rain garden since the nearer one is closer to the gas line and also blocked off by the paved walkway. The closer one (purple dot, right) unfortunately dumps onto the driveway right now... maybe a rain barrel for that corner?

I tried to stick with the basics for the plant choices, especially with the shade and soil conditions being suboptimal. From top to bottom (see image below) black eyed susan, round lobe hepatica (anemone americana), fox sedge, blue flag iris interspersed with blue lobelia, wild geranium, thimbleweed (anemone virginiana), a pawpaw tree, and nodding wild onion.

My goals are to have a relatively subdued floral color palette with sustained seasonal visual interest via both spring and summer bloomers. I selected relatively short plants as I hope for the pawpaw tree to eventually take center stage. The perennials should have nicely contrasting leaf shapes especially with the sun-shade gradient.


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